Ghana Gas Project won’t solve energy problems - Kwabena Donkor (11 October 2014 )

The Ghana Gas Project is not the solution to Ghana’s recurrent energy crisis, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, Dr Kwabena Donkor, has said.

The Pru East Member of Parliament also took issues with the country’s over- reliance on gas supply from Nigeria for power generation, insisting that those using that as an excuse for the country’s energy crisis were not fit to be in office.

“How many times have we not known that this supply was unreliable? Since when has gas supply from Nigeria been reliable? It has historically been unreliable and the least you can do in planning is to plan with the fact that gas from Nigeria cannot be depended upon so let's look at alternatives,” he said.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion in Accra on the expectations and the way forward for the country’s energy sector.

Organised by the Institute of Green Growth Solutions, a non-governmental organisation, the programme was meant to diagnose the problems confronting Ghana’s energy sector and the solutions for them.

Ghana’s energy crisis
Ghana’s power sector has been in crisis mode  for some time now with the current energy crisis stretching back to 2011. Before then, there had been energy crisis in the 1980s, 1998 and  2007.

However, with so much hope anchored around the Atuabo gas project under the watch of Ghana Gas, many including President John Dramani Mahama believed that the gas project held the key to resolving the energy crisis.

 Dr Donkor again dismissed such claims and maintained that the gas reserve from Atuabo would not be adequate to deal with the perennial power crisis.

Ghana’s energy policy not ambitious 
According to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) figures, by 2020 the country would need 6,000MW of electricity to meet the demands of industry and for domestic use.

In the country’s energy policy, document the government plans to achieve 85 per cent access to electricity for the population and the development of infrastructure to generate and distribute 5,000MW of electricity by 2016.

The figure did not impress Dr Donkor, who described it as not ambitious enough.
He observed that the country should rather target 10,000 megawatts of power in the next 10 years backed by  exploring diverse sources of energy.

He said coal provided the country with an alternative and should be pursued vigorously.

Other speakers

The Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, Dr Alfred H. Ahenkorah, shared a similar position and stated that the commission was currently processing two applications for two companies interested in using coal to generate power in Ghana.

The two plants, expected to generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity, would be cited in the Greater Accra and Western regions respectively.

While admitting that there were environmental problems with the use of coal, he said an efficient management of the plant would ensure that the environmental hazards were not high.

He hinted that the commission would from next year launch a rooftop solar power for homes project aimed at promoting solar use in the country.

He, however, observed that given the country’s current energy deficit, it could not afford to run solar plants as the plants would need a conventional power source as a backup.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Enterprise Foundation, Nana Osei Bonsu, had qualms about the country’s tariff regime that billed businesses more than consumers.

According to him, the only way the country could power its industrialisation dreams was to make power more affordable to industries as against residential users.

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