By Edward Adjei Frimpong, Bui

Efforts to addressing the current energy crisis bedevilling the country has received a massive boost as President John Mahama last Friday inaugurated 133 megawatts from the Bui Hydroelectric Dam in the Brong Ahafo Region into the national electricity grid.

Although the 133MW cannot completely suppress the energy problem which has resulted in power rationing, it indicates the prospects and strides of players in the energy sector who since the beginning of this year have been working tirelessly to find solutions to the energy deficit that has rocked Ghana largely because of damage to the West African Gas Pipeline.

The entire 400MW Bui Hydroelectric Dam project is about 92% complete and in its final stages of construction. Dry and wet tests — which were to verify proper, complete and satisfactory erection of all the subsystems for the first generating unit — were carried out and successfully completed in April this year and the plant is now generating 133MW into the national electricity grid.

The rest of the plant should be available by the fourth quarter of 2013 while other associated and non-power works on the project will continue till the second quarter of 2014.

In his inaugural speech, President Mahama stated that the damage to the West African Gas Pipeline exposes the fragility of Ghana?s power supply in the face of the ?geometric increase? in demand for domestic, commercial and industrial energy.

?For many developing countries, an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is accompanied by growth in energy consumption per capita. Ghana?s energy challenges are consequential of an expansion in the economy coupled with growing demand by the populace for power. With an average GDP growth of 8% per annum, Ghana?s energy demand-growth is hovering around 7-10% yearly, ?he said.

To this end, Government is not only working to end the current load-shedding but to also ensure that Ghana enjoys energy security in the next 20 years in order to make us a net exporter of power into the West African pool of energy to the benefit of power-deficient sister-countries, the President noted.

?Ghana?s energy security is dependent on producing and processing our gas reserve, and for that matter I have take personal interest in the Ghana Gas Project at Atuabo in the Western Region — asking for regular briefings on its progress. I am optimistic that the end-of-year target to bring the gas on stream is realisable,? he added.

President Mahama continued that with the completion of a pilot 2MW solar plant by the Volta River Authority in Navrongo, discussions are steadily underway to also see a significant addition of renewable energy into our power mix, adding that plans by independent producers are far-advanced to put 400MW of solar power into the national grid at Kusugu in the Northern Region.

The President later inaugurated a 161kv substation at Kintampo that is meant to integrate evacuated power from the Bui Generating Plant into the national grid.

Mr. Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, CEO of Bui Power Authority who numerated the components of the project, stated that four transmission lines are being constructed to aid in evacuation of power from the Bui Generating Station into the national grid.

He said three lines heading to Sawla, Kintampo and Techiman are about 98% complete, while the fourth line to Sunyani is also close to 73% complete.

Touching on other ancillary projects, Mr. Amissah-Arthur revealed that work has taken off on construction of a landing ramp to support fishing efforts in the Bui reservoir, and to enable effective monitoring and control of access to the reservoir as well as contact with the lake in the interests of public health and sustainable fisheries.

?Another auxiliary project to the Bui Generating Plant is an irrigation scheme, which is expected to cover an estimated 30,000 hectares of land. The proposed area is located about 32km north-east of the dam-site. A consulting firm has been engaged to conduct detailed feasibility studies of the proposed area, and also provide detailed designs for the development of 5,000 hectares as the first phase of development,? he pointed out.

The Bui Project started in 2007 and experienced a shortfall in project funding — arising primarily from unanticipated effects of the recent global economical crunch, unforeseen essential works, and inadequacy of budget allocations for some line items in the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract.

Government has however secured the additional required funding totalling US$168.4million from the Eximbank in China.



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