The Ministry of Energy has laid before Parliament a Renewable Energy Bill that aims at supporting the development, utilization and efficient management of renewable energy sources in the country.
The bill provides for the utilization, sustainability and adequate supply of renewable energy for electricity and heat generation and related matters.
It is an attempt by government to provide for a framework to support the development and utilization of renewable energy sources and the creation of an enabling environment to attract investment in renewable energy sources.
In accordance with the standing orders of the House, Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo has referred the document to the Mines and Energy Committee of the House for consideration and report. Moses Asaga chairs the committee.
Among the major aims of the bill is to increase the proportion of renewable energy, particularly solar, wind, mini hydro and waste-to-energy in the national energy supply mix while contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
The Bill defines renewable energy to include wind, solar, hydro, biomass, bio-fuel, landfill and sewage gas, municipal solid waste, industrial waste, geothermal energy, ocean energy and any other energy source as may be designated by the minister responsible for energy in the country.
The promotion for the use of renewable energy, the diversification of supplies to safeguard energy security, and improved access to electricity through the use of renewable energy sources also fall within the ambit of the bill.
The building of indigenous capacity in technology for renewable energy sources, public education of renewable energy production and consumption and the regulation of the production and supply of woodfuel and bio-fuel among others represent components of the bill.
It outlines the responsibilities of the various institutions that will be involved in the promotion of renewable energy. Among others, the bill makes the Energy Commission responsible for advising the energy minister on renewable energy technologies.
The Commission is also responsible for ensuring collaboration between government and the private sector and civil society for the promotion of renewable energy sources, the promotion of local manufacture of components to facilitate rapid growth of renewable energy sources and the promotion of training and support of local experts in the field of renewable energy.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) will be responsible for the approval of rates chargeable for the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources by public utilities, charges for grid connections and rates for the wheeling of electricity from renewable energy sources.
In effect, the PURC and the Energy Commission are required to take into account the particular nature of electricity generated from renewable energy sources to ensure that renewable energy projects are integrated into power system in developing regulations and guidelines for the provision of electricity.
The bill identifies the Ghana Standards Board (GSB), the Forestry Commission (FC), the Land Commission (LC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) among others as relevant institutions that will assist the Energy Commission in the discharge of its duties.
The bill also provides for the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund with the objective of providing financial resources for the promotion, development and utilization of renewable energy sources. It spells out sources of funding, and makes the Energy Commission responsible for its management.
?Given the fact that a Renewable Energy Fund is established by this Bill, the provision in Act 541 which has one of the objects of the Energy Fund to be the promotion of projects for the development and utilization of renewable energy resources, including solar energy is redundant. The funds for this are provided for in this bill by the Renewable Energy Fund,? a memorandum to the Bill stated.
Ghana is well endowed with renewable energy resources, particularly biomass, solar and wind energy. The development and use of renewable energy and waste-to-energy resources have the potential to ensure Ghana?s energy security and mitigate the negative climate change impacts.
Biomass, which is Ghana?s dominant energy resource in terms of endowment and consumption, covers about 20.8 million hectares of the 23.8 million hectare land mass of the country and is the source of supply of about 60% of total energy used in the country.
Ghana is also well endowed with solar resources due to its unique geographical location and this can be exploited for electricity generation and low heat requirement in homes and industries. Monthly average solar irradiation in the country ranges between four and six kWh/m square a day with an annual sunshine duration of 1800 to 3000 hours.
The country also has moderate wind speed, especially along the along the coasts which can be exploited for wind power generation.
Data available from the Energy Commission indicates wind speeds of between five to eight meter square at five (one) meters above ground level.
In order to improve the cost effectiveness of solar and wind technologies, legislation is required to regulate the fiscal regimes for this.
In the absence of a legal framework policy recommendations cannot be implemented hence the need for the bill.