Letter To Mr President: Our Path To Sustainable Energy Availability

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Jacob Osei Yeboah
Jacob Osei Yeboah

21 Sept,2014
H.E. John Mahama
The Office of the President
Flagstaff House
Accra,
Dear H.E. Mahama,

Jacob Osei Yeboah
Jacob Osei Yeboah

TOWARDS ENERGY CONSERVATION- GHANA?S PATH TO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AVAILABILITY

Ghana?s power crisis currently in its acute stage has been attributed mainly to low power generation capacity by the energy ministry, led by Hon. Emmanuel Kofi Buah. This assertion has justified the need for the energy ministry to expedite procurement of emergency generators of 450MW capacity to augment the current deficit of 350MW by first quarter of 2015.

Your Excellency, there is no clear justification enough for the fast procurement of 450MW emergency plant by the Minister of energy, Hon. Emmanuel Kofi Buah. One is also tempted to wonder the technical advisors to the Energy Minister, from the energy ministry?s directorate as well as from the Technocrats from VRA and ECG for not justifying sustainable energy efficient availability policy. There is a high tendency that, these emergency plants will soon be another white elephant. This is due to high operating cost and consumers? affordability. Also IMF will not encourage any form of government?s policy to subsidised energy in the near future of at least 3 years.

In as much as conventional thinking accepts the fact that we need normally a higher generation in order to meet demand, energy conservationists hardly accept this simplistic phenomenon. The other fundamental question is; generating power at what cost? The affordability by consumers and country?s power competitiveness to industries are prime determinants of energy policy direction.

Power generation by plants unlike power storage by batteries is a continuous and irrecoverable snapshots phenomenon. This means the cost in running the plant accumulates from the start of the plant, the power generated if not used at that instant of generation cannot be recovered for re-use for other purposes.

Energy Generation Mix Policy- Biogas Priority

Your Excellency, It is quite disturbing that the Energy Ministry is prioritising using the gas find for power generation mostly. Gas can be depleted but it is the resource in the petroleum industry that can truly catapult the country into industrialisation.

Gas is the raw material into fertilizers for farmers and methanol and ethylene for industries especially pharmaceuticals. Ghana started generating hydro power since 1960s but has not been able to industrialise competitively due to high cost of sources of input. The gas policy must be categorical and deliberate 50% for power generation and 50% for agrarian and industrial uses of gas derivatives. Other cheaper sources of thermal power generations are through Coal and Pet Coke (by product waste from refineries).

Renewable energy generation mix increase is more sustainable for Ghana. Renewable Energy as asserted by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has the ability to lift poorest countries to high levels of prosperity.
Your Excellency, The current sanitation problems in the country make Biogas a very key energy generation policy, the option to be adopted urgently. Biogas generation has the process that can solve sanitation and power generation problems at a very affordable price for domestic heating and lighting purposes. One of the key experts in biogas technology in the world is a Ghanaian.

Latest technology also makes hydro power generation without the construction of dams a priority of increasing the renewable energy mix. An additional 200MW can be generated before and after the Akosombo dam. This technology can enable most of the rivers and streams identified for hydro power to generate more power without dams.
Other renewable sources of energy that we need to increase in the energy mix is Wind and solar. A solar residential policy framework can go a long way to augmenting residential power requirement.

The Caveat of Emergency Thermal Power Generators Fast Procurement

Your Excellency, apart from other possible sustainable generation mix, we?ve never thought also about whether the energy generated is efficiently used within acceptable generation and distribution losses by the energy industry.
Ghana has energy losses of about 40% by both generation and distribution by VRA and ECG. This means at the current total generation of about 2546MW, Ghana loses 982MW. The capital cost of generating the energy loss of 982MW by gas fired plant is about One Billion US dollars ($1Bn).

Your Excellency, you may remember that, the fuel cost of running 25MW emergency plant daily, in 2007 was GHC 280,000, extrapolating the cost into 2014 fuel price for 450MW (instead of 25MW) emergency plant; it will cost Ghana about GHC7.84M daily and GHC2.9B (US$795M) yearly to fuel the plant alone without operating cost. What is the productive economic cost benefit to industries? competitiveness and to the nation for running emergency plants to bridge the energy gap deficit? The running cost of generation losses of 982MW (if it were emergency generation plant) by inference could be about GHC22M daily and GHC8B yearly ($2.22B).

Your Excellency, The cost of improving efficiency of generation and distribution by VRA and ECG combined which is sustainable for years to come will not be up to the yearly cost (US$795M) of fuelling emergency plant of 450MW. With the same 40% combine losses, only 270MW will be efficiently used whilst 180MW will go waste. It will be in the interest of Ghana for government to improve efficiency and conservation than the quest of generation increases alone.
The generation capacity requirement is based on peak demand of energy. The peak demand is a function of industrial and residential demand of power. In Ghana, the peak is normally around 1830-2300 GMT when it is believed most citizens are at home.

Can Ghana frame a policy on Industrial working cycle and home power usages respectively such that the peak demand can be optimised? Yes, this is what energy conservationists will always explore.

Towards Energy Efficiency and Conservation

Your Excellency, Energy efficiency is using less energy through technology advancement to achieve the same level of services and product delivery. Ghana in August 2007 introduced the Compact Florescent Lamps (CFL), which conserved 124MW of energy with an annual savings of US$33M from using incandescent bulbs.

Energy Conservation however, refers to reducing energy consumption by eliminating waste and using less of energy services. The switch offs of lights and Fridges without affecting productivity form part of energy conservation.
Cooling and heating by Refrigerators, Air conditioners and Water heaters in General constitute a total of about 87% of domestic energy consumption. It is therefore logical that Ghana explores how to conserve energy from these home appliances without necessarily inconveniencing consumers. The implementation of conservation policy by use of technology can make energy available for other uses. This is where the energy ministry can reduce drastically domestic consumption.

Your Excellency, An innovative way for conserving power generation as well as protecting equipment for consumers is the VITASAFE solution for home appliances in general but for Fridges/ Freezers in particular.

Most Fridges/Freezers have on the average 150Watts power capacity, although, the range could be between 100W-300W. Thus two million Fridges/Freezers in a country at peak periods can easily make available 200-600MW of energy for industries. The cost benefit for countries to generate additional power to meet peak demands cannot be over emphasized. VITASAFE has been the innovation for most governments to indirectly generate 500MW into their grid distribution system without building power plants.

Also quite a high percentage loss of about 30% is attributed to Power distribution by ECG. Most of the distribution losses are also through theft due to illegal connections as well as poor power factor equipment. ECG needs to monitor the supply of power at the point of demand through the use of SPM Smart Grid device and installation of power factor correction capacitor banks for Industries.

It?s high disincentive for the Energy Ministry to crave for more generation at 40% losses without recourse to investing in Efficiency and Conservation of energy. The amount needed for the option of non productive emergency power generators procurement could positively be used for Biogas projects to solve the current duo-problem of sanitation and load shedding/power outages.

Your Excellency, to conclude, the energy ministry under strategic business units (SBUs) analysis ought to be classified by the BCG matrix as the question mark /the problem child. However, the energy ministry?s performance could apparently be classified as the dog, meaning there is no prospect for growth and must be diversified. This should not happen due to its strategic nature in the development scheme of our country.

Knowing the prospect for energy, one can conclude that the government must therefore concentrate on the niche of energy efficiency and conservation with biogas generation to push it to the question mark/problem child quadrant. We will then invest in the mini hydro for star classification for sustainable energy towards industrialisation.
Your Excellency, Thank you for your attention.

Yours Sincerely,
SIGNED
Jacob Osei Yeboah
(Independent Presidential Candidate 2012)

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