On 18th November 2016, The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) held a consultative meeting at its conference room to discuss the draft National Infrastructure Plan for the energy sector over the 40-year period of Ghana’s long-term development plan. IMANI’s Barbara Andoh took part in the meeting.
By Barbara Andoh
The meeting was chaired by Dr. Emmanuel Derbile, the Upper West Regional Representative of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). There were four main presentations and discussions on Power, Renewable and Alternative Energy, Nuclear Energy and Petroleum.
Power: Generation, Transmission and Distribution
The main task for the electricity sub-group of the NIP energy group was to develop a least-cost strategy for a robust electricity supply infrastructure over the period for Ghana’s long-term development plan (2018-2057). Mr. Dzobo of the Energy Commission said that by 2057, it is envisioned that, the electricity generation mix would comprise of hydro plants, thermal plants whose fuel source would include natural gas specifically LNG, nuclear power plants, coal power plants, utility scale solar PV, rooftop solar, biomass as well as wind power. The “MESSAGE” model was employed to estimate future electricity needs so as to develop optimised electricity supply strategies. Mr. Dzobo stated that the team will continue to review and complete its assessment of electricity generation capacity expansion strategies using the message model and would further undertake an assessment of electricity transmission and distribution capacity expansion strategies.
Participants pointed out that, the issue of inefficiencies in transmission and distribution and how they were going to be addressed should be fully outlined in the final report. Also, the report should show how the capacity expansions and infrastructure developments mentioned would be financed.
Concerning thermal generation, it was suggested that there was a need to look at fuel cost in terms of the environment especially since there were plans to introduce coal into the generation mix. This analysis should also take into consideration a declining use of fossil fuels in the future.
Mr Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo of the Ministry of Power in delivering his presentation on the renewable energy sector expressed the general desire for Ghana to gradually move away from fossil fuels to an increased use of renewable energy as reflected in the Ghana Renewable Energy Policy Goals 2030. He mentioned that Ghana has about 14 unexploited hydro sites with a total capacity of 740MW as well as high wind power potential along the coast. Feasibility studies for some of the unexploited hydro sites were underway specifically in Heman (Central region) and Pwalugu (Upper East region). The feasibility study for Juale (Northern region) was suspended because of the possible flooding the dam will cause in Togo. Discussions with the Togolese government were however underway to develop the dam as a joint project. The Pwalugu dam is slated to be a multipurpose dam which would support irrigation and help with flood control. Mr. Ahiataku-Togobo further highlighted priority areas for grid-connected, off-grid and mini-grid renewable energy investments from now to 2030 including; development of 3-6 potential hydro sites (200-300MW), development of utility scale biomass and waste to energy power plants (70-150MW), development of a utility scale wind park (150-500MW), distributed grid connected R.E generation through net metering, utility scale solar farms (150-300MW), among others.
Participants made the following observations and suggestions;
- Increased public education was needed for sensitization of the public on the renewable energy options available, for example, Energy commission’s rooftop solar programme.
- The final report should contain an outline of specific medium-to-long term renewable energy plans, commensurate with the 40-year long term development plan which would give Ghana independence from power problems as well as a long term strategy for financing renewable energy projects
- Possible manufacturing of solar batteries and solar lanterns in Ghana as a local content goal should be considered
- The issue of land use in constructing solar farms required further consideration
Mr. Yamoah Ennison of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission discussed the status of Nuclear energy in Ghana. Ghana is in the early stages of introducing nuclear energy for the generation of electricity through a Nuclear Power Programme and so far the key steps taken include; the preparation of a draft nuclear energy policy, the ratification of most international treaties and conventions required for developing a nuclear power programme, review and update of an energy demand assessment study, consultations and public awareness. On the issue of grid infrastructure, Mr. Yamoah stated that, there was on-going collaboration between GRIDCO and NPI to conduct preliminary studies of the electrical grid system and its capability and reliability in light of the requirements of Nuclear power. Concerning finance, Mr. Yamoah stated that the main projected source of funding for Ghana’s nuclear power programme was through government funding support specifically the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund. Mr. Yamoah stressed that, the process for nuclear development in any country requires lots of time in preparation and commitment on the part of government. He stated that Ghana is currently at the preparation stages of nuclear development but all things equal, its first nuclear power plant would be commissioned by 2030. However, the greatest challenge for nuclear development in the country was lack of dedicated funds for the nuclear programme.
Dr. Ben Asante of the Ministry of Petroleum delivered the presentation on the infrastructure needs of the petroleum sector. He noted that, upstream activities are typically capital intensive as such, there is currently minimal local participation hence less requirement for infrastructure development. However, it is anticipated that, the national oil company GNPC will develop to a point where it can undertake its own exploration and production activities especially in view of plans to expand national reserves through continued exploration and production activities. Midstream and downstream activities on the other hand have significant local participation and infrastructure development is required to sustain and expand these activities. In the medium-to-long term, it is envisioned that indigenous crude oil will be gathered and transported to the oil refinery for processing. In this case, an expansion of existing infrastructure as well as infrastructural additions would be required. Further, the petroleum sector infrastructure plan reviews the existing refinery capacity of TOR and recommends expansion of the facility and a possible addition of another refinery. Concerning transportation of petroleum products via pipelines, barges and road, the petroleum sector infrastructure looks at the most cost-effective means of transportation based on safety, reliability and economy. Proposed infrastructure includes a network of onshore and offshore pipelines and storage tanks. A number of pipelines have also been proposed for the transportation of gas across the country and the option for sourcing LNG was also indicated.
Miss Barbara Andoh (Research Lead, Center for the Study of Energy and Natural Resources, Imani) pointed out that, there were no clearly laid out financing plans to achieve the infrastructure development envisaged for the oil and gas sector. Participants suggested that the final report should include a clear strategy for financing the anticipated infrastructure expansions and additions.