The Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced government's plans to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to provide power for non-electrified rural communities in the country.
To be undertaken under the National Rooftop Solar programme, which was introduced to facilitate the adoption of solar PV systems in homes and businesses, he said it forms part of efforts towards the achievement of universal access to electricity by 2020.
Currently, he said the Volta River Authority (VRA) was receiving the needed support to develop two utility-scale PV plants totalling 12 megawatts in the Upper West Region and 75 megawatts wind plant at Anloga in the Volta Region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 4th Ghana Renewable Energy Fair in Accra yesterday, he said the promotion and development of cost effective utility-scalable solar energy projects were aimed at accelerating the development of mini-grid solutions in off-grid and remote communities for lighting, irrigation and other economic activities.
Organised by the Energy Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, the three-day fair is on the theme "Renewable Energy: Exploiting energy resources at the district level."
Dr Bawumia said electricity access rate presently, stands at about 85 per cent, with communities yet to be electrified being far away from the national grid and in some cases uneconomical to extend the grid to such areas.
In this regard, he explained that the government has so far built five renewable energy powered mini-grid systems at five remote communities to supply indigenes with electricity, adding that it was part of plans to develop renewable energy-based mini grid electrification to provide constant power supply for productive use in remote areas.
In order to fasten its development and attract private sector investment and participation, the Vice-President tasked the Energy Commission to fast track the development of mini-grid regulations to sanitise the industry.
He stated that government was focused on making electricity affordable to all Ghanaians and in so doing has tasked the Ministry of Energy and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to use competitive tendering procedures for the procurement of renewable energy electricity.
Under this strategy, Dr Bawumia added that the winner of the tender would be guaranteed a Power Purchase Agreement, Connection Agreement and government enhancement to ensure the winner reaches financial closure while the nations get value for money in the procurement of renewable energy electricity.
The Vice-President called for a renewed commitment to protect Ghana's remaining forest reserves which provided wood fuel from further degradation and urged the Energy Commission to work with the Forestry Commission and other relevant stakeholders to finalise regulations aimed at regulating and streamlining the various activities of the wood fuel industry.
Deputy Minister of Energy in-charge of Power, William Owuraku Aidoo, urged for strategic partnerships with local entrepreneurs in line with the local content and local participation law for promotion and investments in the renewable energy sector which would also ensure the entry of high-tech products and equipment as well as technology transfer.
Professor George Panyin Hagan, board chairman of the Energy Commission, said this year's fair would focus on the need to harness the energy resources of the districts to give strategic support to government's industrialisation and agricultural development programmes, the One-District One-Factory (1D1F) and Planting for Food and Jobs as cheap and reliable energy sources were needed for full take-off of the programmes.