Procure utility-scale solar power plant for the security of the grid – Dr Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor

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As the country transitions to a low-carbon economy, the need for renewable energy sources in our energy mix has become increasingly important. During the power supply challenges, some experts suggested that consumers (individuals and institutions) should go in for off-grid solar solutions (captive generations) to avoid the unpredictability of electricity supply from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

However, this approach poses significant threats to ECG’s survival and grid security. Captive generations pose challenges on the electricity supply value chain and the national grid, hence the need for regulatory support to encourage ECG to procure utility-scale solar power plants for the benefit of all, instead.

Challenges of the Captive Generation or Off-grid Solutions 

 Grid Stability: Captive generation can lead to grid instability, as it can cause voltage fluctuations and frequency deviations, which can affect the overall grid stability;

Revenue Loss: Captive generation can result in significant revenue loss for ECG, as individuals and institutions generate their own power, reducing their reliance on the grid;

Inefficient Distribution: Captive generation can lead to inefficient distribution, as power is generated in isolation, without consideration for the overall grid optimization;

Lack of Economies of Scale: Captive generation is typically small-scale, making it difficult to achieve economies of scale, which is essential for reducing costs, tariff and increasing efficiency; and

Grid Security: Captive generation can compromise grid security, as it can create multiple points of entry for cyber attacks, physical tampering and may lead to system collapse.

Justification for Utility-Scale Solar Power Plants?

Grid Stability: Utility-scale renewable solar power plant can ensure grid stability, as power is generated and transmitted through the grid, maintaining voltage and frequency stability;

Revenue Growth: Utility-scale solar power plant can generate revenue for ECG, as it can purchase power at a very competitive rate for a reduced tariff to the consumers;

Efficient Distribution: Utility-scale solar power plant can ensure efficient distribution, as power is generated and transmitted through the grid, optimizing grid operations;

Economies of Scale: Utility-scale solar power station can achieve economies of scale, reducing costs, tariff and increasing efficiency; and

Grid Security: Utility-scale solar power plant can ensure grid security, as power is generated and transmitted through the grid, minimizing points of entry for cyber attacks and physical tampering.

While captive generation or off-grid solutions may seem like a viable option for consumers (individuals and institutions), it poses significant challenges to ECG’s survival and grid security. Utility-scale solar power plants offer a more effective solution, ensuring grid stability, tariff reduction, revenue growth, efficient distribution, economies of scale, and grid security. As we transition to a low-carbon economy, Government, through policy. must ensure utility-scale solar plant to ensure security of the grid.

Dr. Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor

(CEO, Independent Power Generators, Ghana)

May 3, 2024