10 March 2009 – Ghana’s energy sector is to rollout a programme for the government’s Energy for Growth agenda during 2009, finance and economic planning minister Kwabena Duffour reported in his 2009 budget presentation last week.

Presenting a comprehensive line up of projects, Duffour outlined the key elements of this agenda as to increase the power generation capacity to 5,000 MW in the medium term, add capacity at the transmission and distribution levels, open up the sector to independent power producers and private sector participants, increase access to electricity to all households, pursue regional cooperation projects, implement power sector reforms, strengthen the regulatory institutions, and reduce the cost of electricity production to achieve lower tariffs.

On the generation side VRA’s 126 MW Tema thermal 1 power plant (TT1PP) will be completed and commissioned in the first quarter of 2009, followed by the 49.5 MW Tema thermal 2 power plant (TT2PP) by mid-2009. In addition the completion of the 230 MW Kpone thermal 1 power plant (KT1PP) at Tema and the Bui hydropower project will be pursued. The expansion of the Takoradi International Company (TICO) power plant at Aboadze into a combine cycle plant will be initiated.

The refurbishment of the 125 MW Osagyefo Power Barge (OPB) project also will be completed this year. The development of infrastructure for supply of natural gas from the Jubilee Field will be accelerated to feed the OPB.

The ministry will also continue to pursue efforts to get sustainable natural gas supply from the West African Gas Pipeline Project for generation and other industrial uses. This would lower power generation costs and therefore enable electricity tariffs to be lowered.

On the transmission side a number of ongoing critical projects will be continued. These include the Obuasi-Kumasi 161 kV transmission line, the substation upgrade project and SCADA modernisation project. The 330 kV Aboadze-Tema coastal transmission line project will also be pursued, and second and third bulk supply point projects in Kumasi will be initiated

Turning to the power distribution system and capacity expansion Duffour said the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Northern Electricity Department (NED) will continue the implementation of projects that are aimed at significantly improving their operations. These include the prepayment metering expansion programme, upgrade of the medium voltage network including the construction of additional primary substations, construction of call centres to enhance customer service operations, and upgrade of the low voltage networks.

The expansion of access to electricity under the National Electrification Scheme (NES) will also be continued with expansion of the grid to around 950 communities and electrification to a further 200 communities. Connections will also be supplied to a further 75,000 new customers under the Ghana Energy Development Access Project (GEDAP).

Turing to renewable energy Duffour said several projects are on the cards. Among these are the construction of the Tsatsadu mini hydro power plant and solar electrification projects in schools, security outposts, health centres and other public institutions. Technicians will be trained for solar PV installation and maintenance.
 
Energy efficiency will also come under the spotlight with the implementation of energy management and efficiency projects in public institutions and public education on energy conservation.

Power sector reform will continue with the preparation of a National Electricity Grid Code, Natural Gas Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Energy Efficiency standards and labeling (for refrigerators and freezers) and a Renewable Energy Law.

Capacity development efforts will be pursued at the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Energy Commission (EC), to enhance their regulatory oversight of the energy sector.

A review of all IPP contracts will also be undertaken to ensure compliance with the market laws.

Finally the ministry will launch a plan to improve the long term financial viability of the three power utilities. This plan will also effect full transfer of national transmission grid assets from VRA to GRIDCO, and “ring-fence” assets and liabilities associated with the government sponsored Tema and Kpone thermal power projects.