"Drive electric" to address Excess Power Generation challenge

Accra, Sept 8, GNA - The soon to be rolled out drive electric initiative, will enable the country to solve its excess power generation challenge in the energy sector, Mr Seth Mahu, Deputy Director, Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy has disclosed.

He explained that because Ghana's power generation capacity was in excess of the demand, a situation that was causing a challenge to utility companies, the drive electric could be part of strategies to address the challenge.

Mr Mahu was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, and explained that currently the country had more electricity generation capacity in terms of power than it needed.

He said the power demand side had not been able to grow to catch up with the supply side, and that if electric drive was encouraged, it will help create that demand.

Drive electric is an initiative by the government that involve the phasing out of petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas powered vehicles and charging vehicles by plugging the vehicles into charging equipment.

Mr Mahu, explained that currently, the country has more capacity in terms of power than needed as the demand size had not been able to grow to catch up with the supply side.

"We think that if we should encourage drive electric, where all types of vehicles run on electric, it will create that demand.

“The utilities have some financial challenges with the excess power issue, because of the contract they have signed with a power producer, popularly known in the industry as ’take or pay’. When the power is available whether we have the need for it or not they have to pay.

“That also affects their weighted average cost of energy. This is because we have so much power and we are not making use of it but we have to pay. The cost for the excess, technically would be passed through for utility customers to pay," the Deputy Director stated.

However, under the drive electric initiative, instead of patrons buying fuel, they would go to charging stations and pay to charge their batteries.

That would also increase the revenue of utility companies and enable them address the challenges they are experiencing with the off-taker agreement,” Mr Mahu said.

He noted that apart from opening up the power space for the introduction of cleaner energy, the drive electric initiative would save the country from becoming a carbon dioxide net polluter, which was known to be a major contributor of climate change.

Answering a question on infrastructure required, Mr Mahu said some charging stations were being established and that the Ministry had received expressions of interest from companies who had seen opportunities in that space to become vendors to install charging points.

The Ministry, he noted, had directed the Energy Commission to quicken the development of regulation and standards that would govern the industry, adding that once that was done, companies could now apply for licenses to become a private or commercial vendor.

“The good news is that the technology is not new, since it has matured already in some markets.

"We have to get the right template and implement it. After implementing, we can take a step back, study the science and processes behind, and use that to build the human capital that is needed to support the sustainability of the industry and also knowledge export,” he said.

In 2016, energy sector emissions accounted for 15.02 megaton of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e), representing 79 percent of total national emissions of 29.28 MtCO2e (excluding net emissions from Forestry and Land Use), a report on review of national emission contributions in Ghana’s (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement indicated.

It revealed that the rising emission trend in the energy sector was driven by the increasing use of liquid fuels in transport and thermal power generation.

“Light crude oil was the dominant fuel for electricity generation until 2010, when natural gas joined the group of fossil fuels, due primarily to its cost effectiveness. The transport category accounted for 48 percent, followed by the energy industry 35 percent and manufacturing and construction 7.2 percent,” the report said.