Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Should Ghana's Private Sector Not Venture Into Micro & Small Hydropower Production?

Whiles we await the merging of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Bui Power Authority (BPA), one hopes that the minister for power, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, will revisit President Nkrumah's idea of building small hydro power plants to supplement power from the Akosombo hydro power plant.

Building small and micro hydropower plants could make a difference for many communities going forward into the future  - as they  could harness the kinetic energy from the flow of rivers across Ghana to produce electricity: obviating the need to find millions of dollars to dam rivers for power.

One's humble advice to Dr. Kwabena Donkor, is that he should consult the European Union's (EU) office in Ghana, about possible collaboration between his ministry and the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA).

On that basis, the EU office here could  arrange for engineers from both the VRA and BPA, as well as their counterparts from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), to visit micro and small hydro power plants across Europe. Ditto representstives of relevant sector-specific member companies of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).

The GWCL's engineers could learn from  the example of the German water company, Veola Wasser GmbH - which has achieved energy autonomy at some of its drinking water treatment plants in Germany (Gorlitz and Gera, for instance).

Perhaps the visit will inspire the GWCL to strive to achieve a degree of energy autonomy at some of its drinking water treatment plants - and lower its production costs that way.

The visionary Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah planned to build mini hydro power plants - and would have doubtless done so had he not been overthrown in 1966. This is the perfect time to revive the idea.

Those in Ghana who are keen to take the idea a step further, who might want to contact hydropower turnkey project consultants, could write to:  Power From The Landscape, Alternative Technology Centre, Unit 7, Victoria Works, Victoria Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8 LN, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1422842121.

 If the power industry's  renewable energy sector's entire value chain was given tax-exempt status, it would encourage some of the most creative entrepreneurs in our country, to explore collaborative initiatives with mini and micro hydro power producers in the EU and the US, which  could lead to the establishment of joint-venture micro and small hydro power companies in Ghana.

Food for thought for the Association of Ghana Industries, perhaps? Ditto the energy-starved big gold mining companies?

(To digress a little: Incidentally, those big gold mining companies would be wise to buy the UK company LIFESAVER Systems' water tanks, which have nanotech filtration that can provide pure water from even contaminated sources, to the communities that border their concessions. Those communities often suffer terribly when there is spillage of toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the gold mining companies' tailings ponds into the rivers that they depend on for their drinking water supply.)

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