Government institutions to be hooked onto solar power soon 
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Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Tuesday announced that Cabinet has taken a decision to move all government institutions onto solar power to reduce the cost of energy consumption.


He said feasibility studies were underway for the Jubilee House, the seat of Government, and Parliament House to go onto solar, adding that in due course same would be rolled out for other government institutions such as schools and hospitals.


The Vice President gave the assurance that the government would continue to pursue renewable energy-based mini grid electrification to provide 24-hour electricity for productive use on islands and remote communities.


He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Energy to harness private sector investment and participation in the programme to accelerate mini-grid deployment.


He said it was refreshing that the Ministry was working to achieve the vision of universal access to electricity, adding that currently the country’s electricity access rate stood at about 85 per cent.


Vice President Bawumia announced this when he officially opened the Fourth Ghana Renewable Energy Fair in Accra, under the theme: “Renewable Energy: Exploiting Energy Resources at the District Level.”


The three-day Fair provides the platform to promote renewable energy technologies and create linkages between the various stakeholders in the renewable energy space, including researchers, entrepreneurs, industries and consumers.


The Fair, jointly organised by the Energy Commission and Ministry of Energy, involved conferences and exhibition of renewable technologies, which attracted captains of industry, energy experts and development partners.


It will also ensure collaboration between government, the private sector and civil society organisations to deliberate on pertinent issues on renewable energy and proffer solutions.


Vice President Bawumia said he found it refreshing that the annual fair had shaped the conversation on integrating renewable energy into the country’s energy mix, and that the theme was chosen to exploit how renewable energy resources could be used as a cost reduction measure for energy production and opportunities for job creation. 


He said the government had built five mini-grid systems on some island communities to supply the indigenes with electricity and that renewable energy powered mini-grid systems provided the answers to the energy challenge in the country.


The Vice President noted that one key advantage of renewable energy was the access it provided communities with electricity, especially farming communities located far from the electricity grid, which could help create wealth through related activities of agro-processing.


“In the case of the Planting for Food and Jobs Policy for example, renewable energy in the form of solar or wind powered water pumps could be effectively used to irrigate farms to guarantee all year round farming,” he said.


“This also ties in with the policy of ensuring that disadvantaged communities in the north of the country have enhanced access to water for farming in line with our One Village, One Dam policy.” 


Dr Bawumia tasked the Energy Commission to fast track the development of the Mini-Grid Regulations to ensure the smooth implementation of the Scheme.


“We often do not see our forests as a renewable energy resource and, in fact, considering the way our forests are ravaged by ‘galamsey’ and other indiscriminate acts, our forests are under threat and may be destroyed completely,” he said. 


“Indeed, wood fuel (charcoal and firewood) is and will continue to be a dominant cooking fuel in Ghana, until rural incomes increase significantly to support a wholesale switch to LPG or other clean fuels.


“Since the majority of our population use wood fuel for cooking, it is important that the needs of this segment of society are properly addressed,” he said.  


Dr Bawumia said there were initiatives underway to ensure that the charcoal and firewood cookstoves used in Ghana were energy-efficient and generate lower toxic emissions.


He commended the Energy Commission for developing the standards for Improved Biomass Cookstoves.


Professor George Hagan, the Board Chairman of the Energy Commission, said the Fair was instituted in response to the responsibility assigned to the Commission in the Renewable Energy Act 2011, (Act 832), to develop and promote renewable energy for the socio-economic development of the country as well as to protect the environment.


He said previous editions of renewable energy fairs provided platforms to discuss policy and technology briefings as well as exhibition of efficient renewable energy technologies that had the power to transform the energy landscape in Ghana and the West African Sub-region.


Prof. Hagan expressed the belief that this year’s fair would provide a platform for collaboration between government, the private sector and civil society organisations to promote renewable energy and facilitate the identification of opportunities for investment.


He expressed optimism that the Fair would achieve its objectives in finding solutions to the country’s energy challenges to accelerate development.


The annual renewable energy fair, instituted in 2015, aimed at discussing how it could be harnessed and used at the local and district levels for sustainable economic development.


Source: GNA