NEWS COMMENTARY ENCOURAGES GOVERNMENT TO EXPLORE OTHER SOURCES OF ELECTRICITY GENERATION TO REDUCE TARIFFS
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Development partners recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. Considerable progress has been made on the availability of data on the SDGs. The SDG database increased from 115 in 2016 to around 160 in 2019. The advancements in data availability have had a direct impact on people’s lives. Seven years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Ghana is not where it needs to be. At the current rate of investment, it will be impossible to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Many countries have committed to prioritizing progress, but these have all been watershed into the abyss. Currently, electricity generation is dominated by thermal plants, which account for 63.48% of total installed capacity. Hydropower plants which, used to be the main source of electricity in the country now account for about 36% of the total installed capacity.
Solar energy is indisputably one of the most viable and clean energy sources humanity has ever discovered. Issues such as climate change and other economic dynamics have not just made it a tangible option but also a momentous resort for energy security needs. Evidently, the solar sector has a proven track record as the best alternative for both domestic and industrial energy needs. Ghana has had its first share of solar photovoltaic technology on the African continent but at a steady and staggering pace. Fundamental issues such as poor Public-Private Partnerships, inadequate legislation and policy frameworks, socio-cultural factors, and political climate have been identified by various researchers as hindrances to the blow-up of solar energy in Ghana. Ghana has not been able to tap deeply into the areas of renewable energy such as wind energy, wave energy, biomass and others that could help the country not to fully depend on traditional sources of producing power. Government should work on policies that would enhance best practices, take advantage of synergy with the advanced countries in exploiting the knowledge scenarios with energy.
Over the past 60 years, Ghana is yet to complete its nuclear programs because of the capital needed for this huge project. A study of gold tailings at the Nuclear Research Reactor at Kwabenya has revealed traces of uranium in pits in gold-mining areas in the country and therefore put the country at a good advantage for possible nuclear energy programs in Ghana. Ghana had long been dependent on hydro energy for its baseload options but there is the need for a stable and reliable energy, and that solution is nuclear energy to ensure security, reliability, sustainability, and affordable tariffs. Government should quickly tap into available and ready alternative sources such as wave energy from the sea, wind energy, and biofuels in the interim to solve our energy challenges. Ghana, having an abundance of sunshine all year round should focus more on solar energy production either through private partnership models or more investment in indigenous firms. It is time to change gears toward sustainable sources of energy as being done in Morocco and elsewhere in the world.
By: Hugh Aryee – Honorary Professor, Academic Union Oxford