Immediate past Chairman of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Kweku Andoh Awotwi says the cause of frequent power outages, aka ‘dumsor’, that has plagued the country especially during the Mahama administration is different from the current one.
According to him, the current outages could be described as “dumsor” because of the similarity with what happened during Mahama’s era regarding the unreliable nature of the power supply.
He, however, stressed that what happened between 2014 and 2016 was attributable to inadequate generation capacity, whereas the current one is caused by challenges relating to transmission of power to consumers.
Speaking on Accra-based Asaase radio on Sunday, May 16, Mr Awotwi said, “today, the story is very different. We have a lot of generation capacity available. But the problem actually relates to challenges along the transmission chain, from generation through transmission to distribution to customers.”
There is an ongoing debate between the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) over whether or not the current power outages could be described as ‘dumsor’.
Mr Awotwi, who is an energy expert, explained that many challenges exist within the transmission space. “A lot of our transmission infrastructure especially hasn’t been renewed and the population has caught up with it. So we find congested lines and old equipment.
“What is happening now is that they are trying to change some of this equipment in key areas, and when you want to change things, some have to go down to allow you to connect. There is a lot of that going on recently,” he stated.
Touching on the possibility of using renewable energy sources as alternatives, the former Tullow boss advised that any attempt by managers of the energy sector in Ghana to venture into the use of solar and wind energy should be done with caution as these sources are unpredictable.
“We shouldn’t have it preoccupy us because at the end of the day, the challenge with renewable energy is that, if there is no sunshine, there is no solar and if there is no wind, there is no wind power,” he said.
The Chairman of the Multimedia Group, stressed that the Ghanaian economy requires what he referred to as a baseload supply of electricity (minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over a span of time) that is not solar or wind.
Mr Awotwi explained that his non-preference for solar energy is largely because it is not available at all times, “strictly speaking, solar power is a function of how much sunlight is available. Solar plants run from sunrise to sunset.
“Until we have battery storage capacity that allows us to store power from 6:00pm to 6:00am, solar power will not be available half of the day. But we don’t have that kind of battery storage capacity now.” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Energy Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh has given the assurance that projects being undertaken to resolve the power interruptions will be completed by the end of the year.