Last edited: February 2019
The solar sector in Ghana is growing. The government actively promotes solar to increase the amount of solar energy use in the country. This means they want to make it tenfold in the next years. At this moment, Ghana mostly relies on fossil fuels and hydropower. Moreover, many companies, NGO’s and communities help the government to diversify the energy supply and to increase the accessibility within the country.
Access to electricity
Ghana is one of the highest consumers of electricity per capita in Sub Saharan Africa. With almost 80% of the population having access to electricity, Ghana is doing a good job compared to neighboring countries. Sadly, having access to electricity does not mean having a stable, sustainable and healthy electricity supply. For an example, see the figure below. Solar is a great solution to this problem.
Applications of solar
The applications of systems within the solar sector are varied and range from solar home systems for basic house, school, office or street lighting, solar water pumps and solar irrigation systems to solar power plants. Furthermore, businesses, households, communities and the government all benefit from these systems. Over 38 thousand off-grid solar systems and 25 grid-connected solar systems are currently installed. Together they reach a capacity of 8 MW and this amount is growing. In fact, solely PV panels generate around 1 MW of this 8 MW. For a more specific overview of the installed solar power capacity in Ghana, see table.
Solar PV installations in Ghana (2016)
|Solar PV Systems||Installed Capacity (in kW)||Generation (in GWh)|
|Rural home systems||450||0.7 - 0.9|
|Urban home systems||20||0.05 - 0.06|
|School system||15||0.01 - 0.02|
|System for lightning health centers||6||0.01 - 0.1|
|Vaccine refrigeration||42||0.08 - 0.09|
|Water pumping||120||0.24 - 0.25|
|Telecommunication||100||0.1 - 0.2|
|Battery charging system||10||0.01 - 0.02|
|Grid connected system||60||0.1 - 0.12|
|Solar Streetlight||10||0.04 - 0.06|
|Total||853||1.34 - 1.82|
Access to electricity from renewable sources is not only good for the environment and climate change mitigation. It is also very important for economy growth. A growing and reliable solar sector can improve efficiency, decrease power power outages and increase the development of rural areas by creating a new electricity supply. Besides the provision of lighting, there will be more access to water, health care and information technology. Also local communities benefit from a growing solar market, since new viable business opportunities arise. For an overview of solar companies in Ghana, visit this page.
Challenges and barriers
Despite the goal of the government to make the solar market grow, the sector still endures difficulties. Transferring to a new energy system requires technical equipment, knowledge and skills. For this, education and resources are necessary but still lacking. Many initiatives also lack finances, due to the high costs of (long-term) solutions. Many PV products are patented, there is a high interest rate and consumers lack money to invest in their own systems. After the installation of a system, operation and maintenance costs arise. Although the government supports the transition towards renewable energies, there still is a lack of laws and regulations in some areas. The standards and codes are sometimes inadequate and the enforcement is falling short. Luckily the barriers are known to the government who tries to remove them as much as possible with interventions.