Four hydroelectric power dams will be constructed by the year 2020 to help meet the country's energy requirements.
These are the Bui Hydroelectric power dam, which is expected to be operational by the year 2012, the Hemang and Juale hydroelectric power dams also expected to be completed by 2015 and the Pwalugu hydroelectric dam in the upper east region expected to be fully operational by 2020.
The construction of the hydro- dams forms part of a planned system generation expansion under the Energy Commission's National Strategic Energy Plan for the 2000-2005 period.
It is stipulated in the plan that an investment decision would be taken on the Bui hydro project by the end of 2006. It is however estimated that it would take a maximum of five years to complete the Bui hydroelectric project. Thus, by the year 2012, Bui would have become fully operational to support the energy needs of the country. At worse, it is certain to be completed by the year 2014.
The other hydropower resources that would come online are Hemang 2015, Juale 2015 and Pwalugu 2020. The generation capacity of Hemang, Juale and Pwalugu would also be developed to 93MW, 87MW and 48 MW respectively.
The policy objectives of the expansion programme are to ensure security of electricity supply, minimum negative environmental impacts in electricity supply and to ensure universal access to affordable electricity service.
Currently, the turbines of the Akosombo generation station are also undergoing retrofitting and are expected to increase its installed capacity by about 108 MW to 1020MW by the end of 2005.
It is stipulated that if the country is to achieve $1000 per capita by the year 2012, as forecast under the High Economic Growth Scenario (HEGS), the nation must be able to meet an electricity requirement of about 19,471.1 GWH. The 2005 electricity requirement stands at 6976.7 GWH. The HEGS estimates that the government's target of achieving a per capita income of about $2773 by 2025 is possible , but that the achievement of these objectives are dependent on the nation's capacity to be self sufficient in its energy requirements.
The construction of Bui, Hemang, Juale and the Pwalugu hydroelectric projects would therefore be contributing towards meeting the long-term energy needs of the country. Bui alone is expected to add about 17% of hydroelectric power to the Akosombo Hydroelectric generation.
According to the energy commission, the hydroelectric power projects would help increase the level of domestic electricity generation resources and help cut back on imported natural gas.
Another important economic benefit to be derived from the construction of these hydroelectric projects is the job creating potentials that come with it. As stipulated in the National Strategic Energy Plan, about 543 permanent and non-permanent hands would be required for power plants construction for the 2005-2008. In the medium term too, 2063 non-permanent jobs and 191 permanent jobs would be created. These numbers are expected to increase to 4538 for non-permanent job category and 423 as permanent hands in the long term.
The construction of the four hydroelectric projects is also expected to boost Ghana's energy export potentials. Ghana exports electricity to Ivory Coast, Burkina, Benin and Togo. These bring in foreign exchange to help stabilize exchange rate fluctuations.
It is reported that VRA exported 300 Gwh to CEB in 2004. From 2007, VRA would increase its electricity export to SONABEL of Burkina to 60 Gwh. The coming on board of Bui, Hemang, Juale and Pwalugu would urge up the exporting capacity of the nation.
Many environmentalists are however worried that the construction of the hydro projects may lead to the destruction of the environment.