Tackle energy crisis with local solutions — Wood

A renowned Ghanaian engineer, Mr Robert Wood, has challenged the government to use home-grown solutions to tackle the country’s energy crisis.

He observed that apart from solar, wind and biogas, the country could depend on the tonnes of waste timber left behind in the forest to generate energy to deal with the crisis.
According to him, instead of looking outside the borders of Ghana to find solutions, the government should concentrate on the use of local resources to deal with the situation.
Mr Wood, who was speaking at a lecture organised by the Alliance for Transformational Leaders at Madina in Accra last Monday, said the current programmes being implemented by the government would not bring long-lasting solutions to the problem.
Among other things, the government is investing in power barges, thermal plants and possibly nuclear and coal plants.
“Currently, we are not finding the right solutions because we are depending on oil or gas for solutions to the crisis. We import those resources, so if the prices go up then the whole system goes out of gear. If the situation continues, we are not likely to find a lasting solution to the energy crisis,” he said.
According to him, countries such as Brazil had found the antidote to their energy problems by relying on local resources such as sugarcane and water melon seeds to power their industries and homes, a situation that pointed to the fact that it could be done.

Ghana’s energy crisis

Ghana has been experiencing energy crisis in the last four years largely because of a power generation shortfall.
According to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), currently, the country is dealing with a power generation shortfall of between 400 and 600 megawatts (MW).
The current energy crisis, which started in 2011, has worsened in recent times, hitting businesses hard and domestic users with authorities blaming the situation on a number of factors, including erratic gas supply from Nigeria, low water levels in the Akosombo Dam and lack of gas to power the country's thermal plants from the Ghana Gas Plant at Atuabo in the Western Region.
Many timelines have been given by the authorities to improve the situation but signs of improvement have been short-lived. There have been many problems, including frequent breakdown of plants and the lack of gas from Ghana Gas, which also blamed the problem on a technical hitch on the FPSO Nkrumah through which the gas was pumped offshore.
But Mr Wood said the country’s energy crisis was self-inflicted as there were vast stretches of land along the Volta Lake that were fallow and could be turned into energy banks by simply broadcasting seeds.
“This is nothing new. It is being done all over in places such as Australia and Ghana could follow suit to deal with this energy crisis,” Mr Wood, who spoke on the topic “Ghana’s development trajectory, the myth, the logic and the maze,” said.
He also wondered why the country was using sophisticated thermal plants that broke down regularly when its engineers could manufacture gas plants that could be fixed easily by even roadside mechanics.
“We can build plants that can run on vegetable oil or even water melon seeds. Even Aboadze can run on vegetable oil. That is what we should start looking at and not these sophisticated plants that break down so frequently,” he added.

Time to re-examine governance system.

The Managing Editor of the Insight, Mr Kwesi Pratt, who walked the gathering through Ghana’s political history from 1948-2015, stated that the time had come for the country to re-examine its governance system.
He stated that multi-party democracy, rather than bring economic development, was rather a barrier against development as the electorate only elected people who bowed to the whims of the Bretton Woods institutions.
The Founder of the Alliance for Transformational Leaders, Mr Abdul Nasser Adam, for his part, said the way out of the country’s economic struggles was for its leadership to put priority on a vision that helped to plan the country’s progress.
Writer’s email:seth.bokpe@graphic.com.gh


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