Ghana has drawn up a detailed plan for its energy transition, leads its region in floating solar power but must to address the consequences of severe weather conditions.
In the latest of our series of net zero spotlights we look at Ghana, where recent floods have highlighted just how crucial action will be.
Net Zero 2050
Ghana has a series of ambitious objectives for its energy sector as it nears universal energy access and commits to achieving net zero by 2050 – ahead of many countries in the developing world.
The country is however, heavily dependent on its road network for cash crops like cocoa production and distribution of petroleum and there is strong pressure to upgrade and enhance those roads even against the backdrop of severe damage being done by extreme weather events.
Bringing people on the journey
Ghana’s government has taken a collective approach to its energy transition strategy. It has developed comprehensive technical plans in partnership with the private sector, civil-society organisations, youth and other advocacy groups, as well as the UN.
As a result of such extensive engagement, the plans set to be launched in the autumn are likely to marry the national imperative for energy diversity and greater renewable energy sources, with targeted approaches to improve equitable access to the economic opportunities of the transition, with particular focus on generating jobs for women and young people.
The plans will also play a crucial part in helping reassure investors that Ghana can deliver the projects it seeks international support for. One of the big challenges for countries in Africa has been the perception of high risk, although a similar approach in Nigeria has strengthened its project position too and Ghana has had some success recently with green finance.
Hybrid hydro-solar power
Ghana’s Bui Power Authority (BPA) has secured a groundbreaking $24m green loan for investment for the expansion of hydro-solar hybrid projects.
BPA was created to own and manage the 400-megawatt Bui Hydroelectric plant on the Black Volta River. Completed in 2013, the plant added more than 20% to the country’s generating capacity and the plan is to turn it into a comprehensive hydro-solar hybrid facility.
To do that, the first floating solar farm has been installed on the dam’s large reservoir and connection facilities have been upgraded for a long-term expansion of solar power from the site.
The green loan will support further expansion of onshore and floating solar capacity and may represent a solution to the challenges of raising capital in Africa. Investors have strong demand for green loans and bonds, with data suggesting they offer a better and safer return than conventional investments – something that can mitigate the perceived risk attached to projects in Africa.
Flooding and road quality
If Ghana needed a reminder of why decarbonisation matters, this summer’s floods have served that purpose. The floods across the regions of East and West Mamprusi burst bridges and damns, washed away roads and infrastructure and left significant areas cut off.
The Ghana Highway Authority has responded quickly to the damage with a two-pronged approach. It announced that stop-gap infrastructure measures like temporary bridges and diversion routes, as well as partial re-opening of damaged roads were the priority to reconnect communities cut off by the floods. At the same time it immediately instructed engineers to begin preparations for comprehensive reconstruction and repair work to bring the damaged network back up to its original standards – alongside new facilities to diminish the risk of further floods in future.
Ghana’s highways have been a major focus for the country lately, with concerns about road quality leading to petroleum tanker drivers threatening strikes if promised improvements are not sped up. At the same time, financial challenges have seen plans for new cocoa roads – which connect to cocoa farms to help get the cash crop to market – put on hold.
Those plans are likely to need revisiting in future, however, as the country will still need that lucrative industry to help finance its long term aspirations.
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