President John Mahama is expected to launch a government initiative that will aid some 200,000 households to install solar panels on their rooftops to generate part of their electricity needs themselves.
The move will mark a shift, albeit not entirely, from government’s initial focus on grid-connected solar or the situation wherein solar panels are put up on a large expanse of land and fed into the national electricity grid.
The initiative will also come as a relief to some actors in the energy sector, who saw or see the grid-connected approach as being relatively too expensive and wasteful of land.
Opponents of grid-connected solar argue that aside from increasing costs for consumers, it requires large tracts of land for the mounting of Photovoltaic (PV) panels.
So far, government has invested in a 2megawatt grid-solar project located at Navrongo in the Northern Region.
Solar panels for the project are said to have taken over 3.4 hectares of land, and the project cost the country a whopping $9 million when one megawatt of thermal energy costs about $1 million.
A number of grid- connected solar projects are however on paper, and they include the proposed 155 megawatt solar plant by UK- based Blue Energy, which is expected to become Africa’s largest solar plant; and SADA’s proposed 40 megawatt plant in Tamale.
The new Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, is among those who believe that in view of the acute power crisis – wherein generation is not enough to take care of base-load and where money is not readily available – grid-connected solar is a luxury the country should not spend its scarce resources on.