07.04.2005 Business & Finance

Government signs small hydropower development agreement

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Accra, April 7, GNA - The government is to develop small hydropower facilities in rural areas as a catalyst for cottage industrialisation. The pilot phase of the project would begin in three regions at seven sites where water resources have been identified to be in abundance.

Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy, said on Friday that power produced from the project would serve as alternative source of renewable power supply to satisfy the total energy requirements of the country.

The Minister said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of its developing partners, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the International Network on Small Hydro Power in China.

The project, which begins this month, would generate an average of 30 kilowatts of hydropower from each site for transition through the national grid for use in the rural areas at the least cost to the nation.

The sites - - the Kokuma, Randall and Fuller Falls all in the Brong Ahafo Region, the Wli and Tsatsadu Falls in the Volta Region and the Wurudu and Boumfoum Falls in the Eastern and Ashanti regions would together generate a total of 2,107 kilowatts of power on completion. The first of the projects would be completed in six months and the Ministry of Energy believes it is a faster way of achieving rural electrification for socio-economic development in inaccessible areas with suitable water resources.

Prof. Ocquaye said the government recognised the need for diverse sources of power and was committed to developing them to provide other socio-economic development infrastructure such has Information, Communications and Technology for the rural communities.

Mr Alexander Varghese, Industrial Development Officer with UNIDO and Professor Tong Jiandong, Director General of the International Network on Small Hydropower who signed the MOU on behalf of their respective organisations expressed the hope that the project would speed up development in the rural communities.

UNIDO would source for funds and provide experts to train local personnel towards transfer of technology while the Chinese group would provide the technical support.

Mr V. K. Damodaran, Managing Director of the small hydropower company said the cost of each project would depend on the size of the turbines and the amount of power it would generate.

He said a plant that would generate 30 kilowatts of power would cost between 80,000 to 100,000 dollars.

However, on the average, it requires 1,000 dollars to produce a kilowatt of power.

Available information from the Ministry indicated that most communities within the potential small hydropower sites faced numerous challenges and were grid connected and therefore not cost competitive. Feasibility studies conducted in the year 2000 showed that the cost for the development of the sites ranged from 500,000 dollars to two million dollars, turbines cost eight to 20 per cent of the investment cost, the project faced inadequate financing while flow of water duration curves were unfavourable.

However, "in some cases, sites could be used to stimulate socio-economic activities other than power generation such as irrigation, tourism, ecological education and religion," a documentary source from the Ministry said.

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