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The Volta River Authority (VRA) says discussions are far advanced to convert Takoradi International Company’s (TICO) 220 megawatt plant at Aboadze into a 330-megawatt combined cycle plant to ensure adequate and reliable power supply.

Speaking at the second annual stakeholders’ meeting of VRA, the Board Chairman, Professor Akilagpa Sawyer, said these are part of measures to develop and expand existing and new power-generating facilities to meet load growth projections as the country prepares for massive industrial activity in the oil and gas sector, and also to remain competitive on the global energy market.

“These include the construction of the 132MW T3 (Magelian) Plant and the development of the 200MW Kpong Thermal Plant.” Prof. Akilagpa Sawyer explained that tenders have been closed for construction of the first two megawatts of 10-megawatt solar project that is to be built in four different locations of the northern part of Ghana.

He disclosed that a consultant has been engaged to advise and assist the Authority with the required one-year feasibility studies for constructing 100 megawatts of wind-power in various parts of the country, to supplement the existing power supply and meet increasing demand from the expanding economy.

He said in addition to seeking additional sources of gas from Nigeria and the Jubilee Field, the VRA is looking up for alternative sources of gas supply to meet its projected generation requirements, which amount to approximately 200 MMCF/day.

“This has led the Authority to examine closely the possibilities offered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).” According to Ghana Power Report 2011, the country’s electricity sector is undergoing a period of change, with a spurt of new power projects that will raise total installed generation capacity in the country by 65 percent to a total of 3,600MW by 2013.

The increase in supply is timely, with power-generation reserve capacity in the country falling to critical levels in recent years despite the shutdown of a 450 MW demand by the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO). The report said demand for electricity has fast outpaced new investments in power-generation capacity over the past decade, to reach a peak power-demand of 9,131 GWh in 2010.

From 2000 to 2009, residential demand has risen by 61 percent, driven by rapid urbanisation and high economic growth. 52 percent of the population now live in cities (up from 42% in 2000) and their incomes have increased as a result of economic growth averaging 5% annually. At the same time, industrial demand has also grown by 64 percent on the back of the strength of the gold-mining sector. Ghana is the second-largest gold producer in Africa, and with gold prices at an all-time high the energy-intensive sector now accounts for 12.5 percent of total electricity consumption.

Touching on VRA’s financial position, Prof. Sawyer pointed out that finances of the Authority are in good health -- in part due to measures taken by the Government of Ghana to settle outstanding arrears of over GH¢300million and the acknowledgement of further amounts owed the authority.

“Second was an equity injection to the tune of GH¢477.12million, made up of Government promissory notes issued for the purchase of light crude oil (LCO) and for other assistance provided in recent years,” he said.

He indicated that VRA made an operational profit of GH¢53.43million and a net profit of GH¢29.88million in 2010, which he attributed to the increase in electricity sold which went up by 12.05 percent and an increase in the bulk generation tariff from June 1, 2012. He stated that in order to inject greater efficiency into the operations of its non-core activities, the VRA is converting its portfolio of non-power operations into progressively self-financing subsidiaries. These are the hospital, the school and the real-estate departments.

He said this will also enable the authority to re-position itself to focus more effectively on power-generation, its core business, and thereby enhance its competitive advantage in the West African sub-region.
Source: B&FT

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