Parliamentary delay halts Ghanian wind projects

GHANA: Delays to a renewable energy law in Ghana are holding up at least 150MW of wind projects in the west African country.

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The bill was approved by the cabinet last year but needs to be passed by parliament if it is to become law. Volta River Authority (VRA), the state-owned power generator, and Egypt's El Sewedy Group have put on hold plans for 100MW and 50MW of wind developments.

The renewable bill proposes a feed-in-tariff and financial incentives for independent power producers. Sam Appiah, director of engineering services at VRA, says the generator had hoped that these policies would help it attract partners to develop its two wind projects. The projects, which will cost $200 million, have been approved.

"Passage of this law will be an indication of the seriousness of the country to develop the sector to give a sense of direction to investors," says Appiah.

Energy minister Dr Joe Oteng Adjei promised in May last year that the bill would become law by December 2010. However, the Ghanian parliament's crowded timetable last year did not allow for a debate on the renewable energy law.

Ghana's Energy Commission has been mandated under the proposed law to establish a feed-in-tariff scheme which would guarantee the price of electricity generated from renewable sources for 20 years. Passage of the new law would allow the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission to work out the feed-in-tariff rates for electricity purchased from the independent power producers and fed into the country's national grid, which has an installed capacity of 1.9GW.

The Electricity Commission said that wind energy could be a source of wholesale power supply easily deployed within a year, but it is reliant on the law being passed.

Egyptian group El Sewedy Electric had hoped to complete negotiations with the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Energy for the construction of a 50MW wind farm over three years, but this too has been delayed.

Currently, Ghana relies on hydro sources for 60% of its electricity.

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