19 February 2013

Ghana Faces Blackout

If you think that the energy crisis the country is going through will soon come to an end, you must be living in dream land. The situation is rather exacerbating day in and out, due to the drastic fall in power generation, which has already been outstripped by supply.

The development has resulted in the constant shedding of power across the country by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Though the ECG published schedules for the load shedding for consumers to know when their power would go off, and the time to expect supply, this was hardly followed due to tenacious orders to the ECG by the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to shed more power than earlier agreed.

The Chronicle gathered that earlier this week, GRIDCo ordered the ECG to shed 220 megawatts of power per day, which the power distribution company complied with, even though it fell outside its published schedules.

In the afternoon of yesterday, The Chronicle again, gathered that GRIDCo had instructed the ECG to shed, this time, as much as 400 megawatts, which is more than the entire power consumption of the Central, Volta, Eastern and Ashanti Regions, due to power generation shortfall at both Tema and Aboadze.

Charts obtained by The Chronicle indicate that Eastern Region consumes between 70-80 megawatts per day, whilst that of the Ashanti Region hovers around 180-200 within the same period. Central Region also consumes between 50-60mw, with the Volta Region guzzling 50-60 megawatts each day.

The Public Relations Manager of the ECG, Mr. William Boafo, told The Chronicle in a telephone interview yesterday, that there was already a suggestion that they should spare the Greater Accra Region of the emergency load shedding exercise, but looking at the magnitude of power (400mg) they are being asked to shed, any attempt to protect Greater Accra would lead to a total collapse of the system.

According to William Boafo, they had already started shedding the 400 megawatts as requested by GRIDCO, mainly for the residential consumers, who are bearing the brunt of the power crisis, because of the decision to spare industries of the Gordian Knot the Volta River Authority is struggling to untie.

Parts of the country that went off last night (7:00 p.m.) are expecting to get back power this morning (8:00 a.m.), which is almost 15 hours of power cut.

The ECG PRO told The Chronicle that his outfit could not be blamed for the erratic power supply, because they only distribute what has been made available to them by GRIDCo. He, nevertheless, blamed the current situation on the destruction caused to the West African Gas Pipeline, which has cut off gas supply to the country.

According to him, the Asogli Plant alone produces about 180 megawatts of power per day, but is currently sitting idle, because there is no gas to power it, as the plant is fired with only gas.

Some industry players who spoke to The Chronicle as at press time last night, blamed engineers at the VRA for failing to do proper forecasting resulting in the current situation, where demand for electric power has completely outstripped what the VRA could produce.

Ghana was last year described as one of the fast growing economies in the world, with an annual growth rate of 14% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Unfortunately, there has not been the corresponding increase in the supply of power to meet the new status of the economy.

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