The company is currently a key distributor for DENG Ltd under the “Ghana Energy Development and Access Project” (GEDAP); Between June 2009 and to December to date where the company expanded its scope of outreach and customer base in the wake of the company’s participation in GEDAP. The provision of affordable and sustainable electricity to the peri-urban and rural communities is recognized as a first step towards reducing poverty levels. Enhancing access to modern energy services in all parts of the country is a major energy policy objective of the Government of Ghana.
The National Energy Policy (Ministry of Energy (MoEN) , 2010) seeks to provide universal access to electricity by the year 2020. The policy of the Government of Ghana aims at energy diversification and at increasing the share of renewable energy to 10% of the national energy mix. In the past, Ghana has relied heavily on hydropower for fuelling its electricity grid. However, due to changing water regimes (the water reservoir stored by the 41-year-old Akosombo dam was at its record low level in 2007), hydropower becomes less reliable which makes the search for alternatives necessary.
The deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems in Ghana dates back to the early 1990s. Over the past years, there have been three large solar deployment programs in Ghana. Two of these projects were undertaken in the savannah zone to provide off grid solar PV for rural electrification. The first is the Ministry of Energy and Spanish Off-grid Solar PV Rural Electrification Project with funding from the Spanish government. The second project was the Renewable Energy Services Project.
This project was funded by the Ghana Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) / Global Environment Facility (GEF). The third is the renewable energy component of which is being financed by the World Bank and Government of Ghana. The purpose of the renewable energy component of GEDAP is to enhance access to solar PV systems in unserved rural communities in Ghana. GEDAP seeks to address institutional, regulatory, and financing issues to facilitate a commercially-oriented and sustainable framework for electricity access expansion in unserved rural communities in Ghana.
GEDAP is supporting the development of a comprehensive renewable energy legal, policy and regulatory framework that provides incentives for greater private participation and public investment in renewable energy in Ghana. In partnership with Deng, NorthLite Solar is as a service provider under the GEDAP project.
The ongoing GEDAP programme and the installed systems under previous solar projects provides the solar sector with a potentially huge market for the supply of solar systems including lanterns and accessories such as batteries, DC bulbs and regulators for the maintenance of the installed system. Furthermore, due to unreliable electricity services provided by the Electricity Company of Ghana, many institutions and individuals are seeking for reliable power source for their vital equipment. There is a potential market for the use of solar PVs as backup to the national grid in most urban and peri-urban communities in Ghana.
There are several factors in favor of the deployment of solar PV systems in Ghana. These include the relatively low level of electrification (22%) in rural areas compared to the urban areas. For example, whereas the portion of the population with grid access has increased from 28% in the early 1990s to 66%, currently only 22% of the rural population has access to electricity.
Although the electricity access rate to rural electrification in Ghana is encouraging, the rate of electrification for rural communities of less than 2,000 inhabitants remains very poor with access rates of 8-15% (French Agency for Development (AFD), Phase II study, 2005). In addition, the government has instituted a tax waiver on solar systems (complete generation sets) imported into Ghana. Furthermore, the formulation of the Renewable Energy Bill demonstrates a clear determination from the Government of Ghana to develop renewable energy including solar PV as a credible alternative to the grid especially in remote rural communities.