The Akosombo Hydro Plant of the Volta River Authority (VRA) is operating at a fraction of its installed capacity for more than a year now as a result of the dwindling water levels in the Volta Lake.
The plant, with six combined turbines which contribute 1,020 megawatts of power to the national grid, manages to produce a maximum of just 680 megawatts from four turbines at a go in the last one year leaving 340 megawatts deficit.
The Akosombo Dam, which takes its source from the over 400 kilometer Volta Lake, is one of the state agencies to bear the full effect of the drying water body.
The Volta Lake Transport Company, a state run water transport firm, only last week counted their loss when the Transport Minister, Mr. Fifi Kwatey, undertook a familiarization tour of the company.
At the time of filing this report, the water level in the dam stood at 237.27 ft, below the 240 ft minimum level a situation the VRA has been confronted with all this while.
Mrs. Gertrude N. Koomson, Manager, Corporate Affairs at the VRA, speaking in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Accra, yesterday said the situation was forcing the plant to underperform.
According to her, until the water level appreciates to enable all the turbines run concurrently, the only option left now was to “manage the reservoir” and keep at most four of the turbines running, depending on the demand of electricity in the country.
For now, “if the demand is high, we manage to bring on-board four turbines but during the day when demand is not at peak, we bring on-board four turbines which is the minimum so that the lake elevation can continue to build up for the peak time when demand is highest, we can add the fourth turbine but because of the level we are not operating even at five turbine,” she added.
With the rains coming down, Mrs. Koomson is hopeful the situation could change in the coming weeks, if not days but that is dependent on rains from the middle belt and the northern parts of the country.
As it remains now, rainfall is the only solution to the problem and from the northern parts and the middle belt because, rains from the southern sector, she revealed, do not affect the levels of the water.
She said though there was pressure on the dam, the VRA had been careful the dam was not endangered in a bid to meet the energy demand of the country.
“We run the machines based on information, data, warning, flashes from a dashboard which monitors all the turbines so when there is the need to shut it down, the system dully informs,” she noted.
The power front, in her view, however, “looks good because the rainfall pattern shows that this year we may have a lot of rains though it had started late but it could just mount up quickly and then we could have a lot of water to run the hydro plant.
“Secondly, we also expect that when Burkina Faso spills (the Bagre Dam) we will have water coming from the north.”
With the emergency power plants and other investments being made in the sector, Mrs. Koomson said Ghana was on its way to meeting the 5,000 megawatts target by 2020.
Source: The Ghanaian Times
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