Feasibility Study: Renewable Energy Supply
Among the greatest challenges of the 21st century is one of a reliable, economical and environmentally friendly energy supply for everyone. It is the key to sustainable development in many countries and allows for the securing of basic needs of the population as well as the improvement of their living conditions. In many African countries the power supply is problematic; it often represents, therefore, a major obstacle to the development of many regions of the continent. Although, in the African context, Ghana has an above-average degree of electrification, the power supply, with its frequent power outages and blackouts, is extremely unreliable. The problem continues to grow due to the increasing energy demands which are, in turn, a result of the dynamic economic development of the country and the progressive connection of many new communities to the power grid.
Given the problematic effects of fossil fuels on the environment and climate by high CO2 emissions, a reliable, economical and environmentally friendly energy supply in Ghana can only be achieved through increased use of renewable energies. For this purpose, a rethink is required: in addition to the hydro-electric power already in use, in particular, the great potential of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass must be developed. It is also important to significantly increase energy efficiency.
Against this background, the Ghanaian government has decided to diversify the energy supply of the country and to take stronger account of technologies for renewable energy. To this end, a law for Renewable Energy was adopted at the end of 2011 such that, by 2020, ten percent of the country’s electricity is to be produced from renewable sources. In practice, however, the implementation of the law presents considerable difficulties. For instance, the responsible institutions in Ghana lack the necessary planning and technical skills. In particular, there is a lack of expertise and practical experience in the use of renewable energy sources and their integration into Ghana’s existing energy supply system.
The midterm objective of the project is to expand the existing energy center of the University into an educational and research center for renewable energies and energy efficiency. It should be first strengthened in the following practice areas: establishing innovative technologies and hands-on research into the use of renewable energy in Ghana, increasing the energy efficiency of the country, and contributing towards the development of the necessary skills in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The pilot phase was initially a feasibility study to examine the capacity of a high-performance photovoltaic system to bear the essential portion of the daily load in powering KNUST University. The pilot phase also served to develop a strategy for the conversion of KNUST University to a power supply with renewable energy. An accompanying trade cooperation between KNUST University and a university in NRW is also to be initiated. The cooperation is intended as a framework to encourage scientific exchange in the subject area of renewable energy and to professionally support both the expansion of the energy center and the KNUST power conversion. In the course of trade cooperation, the North Rhine-Westphalia expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as its experience in the development, testing and commercial introduction of appropriate technologies is to be used.
Prospectively, the project is to help build the capacity of the competent Ghanaian institutions in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. This should serve as a prerequisite for building the aforementioned reliable, economic and environmentally friendly energy supply in Ghana.
With its promotion of renewable energies and climate protection, the project addresses key objectives of the One World Strategy of the State of NRW. The technical cooperation between KNUST and a university in NRW is also a symbol of efforts to internationalize science within the framework of the One World Strategy.
The activities in the pilot phase were carried out in three key areas:
The study of the technical, economic and legal conditions for the establishment of a large scale photovoltaic system (1-2 MW) as a power supply for KNUST University concluded that the construction of the plant is technically feasible; however, due to the relatively high costs and relatively unfavorable conditions, it comes at a very high financial cost. The lack of a feed-in tariff in Ghana and the relatively low solar radiation in Kumasi are particularly responsible for this. For investors, therefore, the financing of such a large system seems hardly attractive. In order to achieve the planned contribution to a climate-neutral campus at KNUST with an economic and environmentally friendly energy supply, other concepts, in place of a large-scale PV plant, need to be considered.
Building a Professional Cooperation
A professional collaboration between KNUST University, the Westfälische Hochschule in Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund University of Technology was set in motion to promote scientific exchange in the subject area of renewable energies and to support the expansion of KNUST University into a center for renewable energy. During a kick-off workshop at the KNUST, the common goals of trade cooperation were defined and the first steps toward concrete activities were identified. Involved in the workshop were ten representatives of the KNUST, five employees of the North Rhine-Westphalian universities, two representatives of the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy, a representative of the Energy Commission in Ghana and a company representative of the Energiebau Solarstromsysteme GmbH of Cologne. The renowned Renewables Academy of Berlin (RENAC) moderated the workshop.
Once the foundation of the trade cooperation was created, the collaboration could be intensified to a one-week study tour in the next step. To this end, nine representatives of KNUST University and a representative of the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy visited North Rhine-Westphalia. Many landmark projects in the field of renewable energy in NRW served as the basis for the transfer of practical knowledge and the exchange of experiences in the technologies for the utilization of renewable energy.
Strategy Development and Multi-Stakeholder Process
To achieve the project objectives, a cohesive and coordinated approach of the stakeholders was crucial at a number of levels: first, at the level of the wider political, economic and social context – for example, by the inclusion of the relevant Ministries and the Energy Commission as well as the private sector stakeholders; and then at the micro level – namely of the KNUST University campus with its various actors, institutions and committees.
A joint strategy with the relevant actors of KNUST was therefore developed in a corresponding multi-stakeholder process in order to give the planned conversion of the power supply at the University and the development of the education and research center at the Energy Center the sturdiest foundation possible and ensure the best possible coordination of the planned activities.
Partners and Stakeholders
- Ghana Energy Commission
- Ghanaian Ministry of Energy and Petroleum
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi
- TU Dortmund University
- Westphalian University of Applied Science