NCAP Ghana: Assessment of Energy Sector

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 9th Dec 2011 | last updated 9th Dec 2011

Ghana’s energy sector has already showed signs of susceptibility to climate change, particularly the effect of highly variable precipitation patterns on hydropower production. At present 67% of electricity generation in the country is from hydropower and 33% is from petroleum-fired thermal generation (Energy Statistics, 2006), with a small contribution of less than 1% from small-scale solar systems.

The drought of the early eighties (1980 to 1983), not only affected export earnings through crop losses but also caused large-scale human suffering and called into question the nation’s continued dependence on hydroelectric power. As a result, the development of petroleum-fired thermal plants is now viewed as an energy security necessity in Ghana. The current rate of electrification presents the challenge of providing energy in a suitable form to a large population, primarily rural but increasingly urban, while at the same time minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Existing renewable energy programs should be strengthened. Currently, the Ghana Renewable Energy Program promotes the development of renewable energy technologies, particularly biomass and solar energy. There has also been a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Program since 1990 to promote the wider use of LPG instead of wood fuels to alleviate deforestation pressures.

The biomass program focuses on the development of a National Wood Fuel Policy to ensure that the production and consumption of wood fuel takes place in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Other strategies call for improved methods for charcoal and firewood production to conserve forest resources, decreased consumption of firewood and charcoal by using more efficient cooking devices, and implementing forest regeneration and afforestation programs.

Ghana receives daily solar irradiation levels ranging from 4 to 6 kWh per square meter, with corresponding peak annual sunshine duration of 1,460 to 2,190 hours. At present, direct solar radiation does not represent a major form of exploited energy in Ghana, and is currently used in niche operations mainly for crop and fish drying using traditional methods. Adaptation initiatives should focus primarily on small-scale, off-grid generation and efficiency improvements as such initiatives would lead to an improved economic situation for potential beneficiaries.

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