Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Answer To Ghana's High Electricity Tariff Is Switching To Renewable Energy

The head of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), is reported to have made remarks recently, which implied that the AGI is concerned about the terrible toll that the nation's high electricity tariff is having, on the financial stability of many AGI member-companies.

A number of high profile politicians have also complained about the difficulties that many households and small businesses face in coping with the impact of Ghana's rather high electricity tariff.

The question is: Have we become a society in which people never attempt to  seek creative solutions to what appear to be intractable problems? Why are we not having a national conversation about making renewable energy systems more affordable, and their usage more widespread, in Ghana?

Portugal, according to a report in CleanTechnica,  was powered by 100% renewable energy, for 107 straight hours, from 6:45 am on 7th May,  to 5:45 pm on 11th May, 2016 - using electricity generated from hydro, wind and solar sources.

Should we not aim to put Ghana in a position to do so too should the need ever arise - if for some extraordinary reason the nation is unable to pay for the fossil fuels needed for Ghana's natural gas and oil-fired thermal power plants, for example?

If  our ruling elites were half as imaginative as the dynamic ruling elites of the United Arab Emirates, we would definitely be a global renewable energy superpower, by now. Should we not make becoming a global renewable energy  superpower a national goal, I ask?

Let those with curious minds, who like to read, take a look at the Positive Money website: - and learn about the International Movement for Monetary Reform's (IMMR)  campaign  for the creation of money by Central Banks for the common good: instead of creating money to fatten the reserves of fatcat banks with "Quantitative Easing."

This blog's hope, is that #OccupyGhana, will set up an affiliate IMMR (Tel: +44 (0) 207 253 3235) organisation in Ghana - and lead a fight to reform the Bank of Ghana and make it create money to grow the real economy.

Could our own unique version of "Helicopter Money" or "QE for the people" not enable all in Ghana who want to do so,  purchase solar power systems, and pay back the "Helicopter Money" by installments - thus enabling them to purchsse rooftop solar  systems with battery storage, and large-scale thermal solar power systems with molten salts storage (and other types of storage technologies) painlessly?

All we would have to do, would be to use blockchain technology, to enable all those who want to switch to renewable energy systems, to open accounts with the Bank of Ghana -  all of which it would credit with "Helicopter Money" based on invoices for the purchase of their renewable energy systems and storage batteries. The suppliers' commercial bank accounts' would be directly credited with payments from purchasers' accounts  with the Bank of Ghana.

Transactions involving such accounts will be fraud-proof and tamper-proof because of the blockchain technology employed. If account holders only made monthly repayments that they could afford, would they not  all eventually repay the cost of the solar power systems, which they purchased with their "Helicopter Money," over the long-term, I ask?

The beauty, in Ghana's case of "Quantitative Easing for the masses," is that all that "Helicopter Money" would eventually be paid back - at account holders' own pace and ability to make repayments with amounts they can afford to part with.

Far better for the  Bank of Ghana to create  "Helicopter Money" or "Quantitative Easing" cash  for the masses - in accounts held by Ghanaians with it, who will then leverage it, to enable them attain off-grid energy independence, by purchasing renewable energy systems, with storage - than for sundry crooks in the system, to collude with corrupt public officials to devise siphoning-off-schemes, to enable them to steal taxpayers' money and get away with it.

Ghanaian businesses, large and small, and our nation's political parties, as well as households and individuals across the country, would do well to focus on the renewables sector, instead of relying solely on the overburdened national grid for their electricity supply - as the renewables sector has the potential to provide businesses, households, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, sundry state institutions and organisations, etc., etc. with affordable electricity.

Utility-scale thermal solar power plants with molten salts storage (and other types of storage technologies), and roof-top solar panel systems with battery storage, for example, could enable many businesses (micro, small and large) across Ghana to attain off-grid energy independence, whenever necessary.

For starters, why does the AGI's leadership, not look up RE100 - and start a similar initiative in Ghana, with the help of the Climate Group and the CDP?

Anyone who looks up the Climate Group's website for recent company news, will see how as they transition to a low-carbon global economy, forward-looking businesses elsewhere, are signing power purchase agreements with renewable energy companies, to power some of their operations - including manufacturing plants - with 100% solar and wind energy, to counter the negative impact on their bottom lines, of the high cost of electricity from their conventional-fuel powered  national electricity grids.

The question is: During their periodic meetings with European Union (EU) officials, in Ghana, why, for example, do government officials and the AGI's leadership, not point out the important role that Ghanaian industries - which provide tens of thousands of jobs for young people - can play in stemming the tide of economic migrants from Ghana to EU member states: when discussing EU initiatives to limit the flow of economic migrants from Africa to member-nations of the EU?

Surely, one of the most effective ways that the EU could help Ghanaian industrial concerns, to survive and grow - if it values the role they can play in helping young people to remain in Ghana and build their lives here instead of travelling to Europe in search of greener pastures that have long dried up - is to provide deserving private-sector entities in Ghana with grants for thermal solar power plants with storage systems?

In any case, hopefully, what those Fortune 500 companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, IKEA, Unilever and Nestle, which are part of the RE100 initiative - an initiative of the Climate Group of States and Regions and the CDP - are doing to lower their carbon footprints, as the world transitions to a low carbon economy, and at the same time protect  their company bottomlines, by switching to renewable energy,  ought to inspire the AGI's leaders, and open the eyes of members of our nation's political class, and Ghanaian society generally.

The only answer to high electricity tariffs is switching to renewable energy. And, as mentioned above,  there are creative ways through which Ghanaians can eventually pay for renewable power systems to give them the ability to have a degree of off-grid energy independence, when they need it.

And we need not reinvent the wheel in our case either: The promoters of Kenya's M-Kopa, for example, could be invited here to partner Ghana's Telcos and Ghanaian micro-entrepreneurs to provide  truly affordable rooftop solar systems for the masses, countrywide.

And IBM Research's Zurich lab's partner, AirLight Energy's subsidiary, D-Solar's Sunflower highly concentrated photovoltaic thermal solar power systems, with molten salts storage, could power factories, educational institutions, whole communities, etc., etc. across the country, and give all of them off-grid energy independence.

And we haven't even mentioned wind energy farms yet. Could the Shenzan Energy Group from China, and their Ghanaian partners,  not be encouraged to look for Chinese technical collaborators, and  funding, to build the world's largest wind energy farm off our coastline to produce say 10,000 MW of electricity - instead of attempting to foist coal-fired power plants on us?

And they could also collaborate with the Chinese solar energy giant, GCL Poly, to build major solar farms here too,come to think of it.

So brainstorming to find creative ways to pay for renewable power systems, for households and businesses in Ghana, is far better than wringing our hands in despair about the high cost of electricity produced by the fossil fuel-powered power plants, which generate electricity for our national grid.

That will not take us anywhere - so crafty politicians should stop using the high-cost of electricity in Ghana as an election campaign weapon-of-choice to enable them win power. Let them rather think up creative ideas about how we can fund the purchase of renewable energy systems for ordinary people and businesses (large and small) in our homeland Ghana.

Switching to renewable energy is the only answer to the high cost of electricity in Ghana. And that is what we should focus on - if we want affordable electricity for all in Ghana. Let us all think creatively for a change when confronted with such problems.

Some of us are begining to get thoroughly fed up with politicians who always complain about Ghana's many problems without ever offering their own solutions to those problems to the nation. Let them think solar power, and let them think wind energy, and, above all, let them be creative-thinkers for once, for a change. Haaba.

Renewable energy can indeed provide affordable electricity for all in our country - and it is definitely the answer to coping with  Ghana's high electricity tariff. Period.
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