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Solar energy could earn Ghana $38m yearly – UNEP

May 3, 2016, 9:26 a.m.

A strategy proposal by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for increasing solar energy use in Ghana, estimates that Ghana could earn $38 million from energy exports with a 100-megawatt solar plant in the north.

The proposal, prepared by the UNEP in partnership with the Energy Centre at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), says the $38 million in annual exports would also be accompanied by the creation of 3,000 direct jobs, provision of livelihoods for 23,000 of the poorest people in Ghana and an annual reduction in CO2 emissions by 40,000 tonnes.

According to the UNEP’s report released under its “Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP)”, the technical and legal infrastructure is already in place to accommodate up to 220 megawatts of intermittent solar power in Ghana.

The UNEP said ongoing and planned upgrades of the transmission system between Ghana and Burkina Faso for instance, could increase Ghana’s solar energy export potential and raise the cross-border carrying capacity to 400 megawatts.

Ghana envisions doubling generation capacity by 2020 and achieving exporter status, with renewable sources representing 10 per cent of the energy mix.

However the share of renewables in the energy mix – solar energy in particular – is still lower than the expectations of most Ghanaians, as energy experts are wary of some issues including power stability and other attendant problems of solar energy such as e-waste generation.

A previous report by the UNEP launched in September 2015, posited that Ghana had “in theory”, a total solar power generation potential of 106 gigawatts, on available land within 20 kilometres from the national power grid.