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23.02.2006 Regional News

Government asked to encourage the use of Solar Energy

By GNA

Accra, Feb. 23, GNA - Mr Joseph Walker, President of the Ghana Electrical Contractors Association, has called for a deliberate Government policy to encourage the use of solar energy as a major means to extend electricity to the rural areas.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview after a day's workshop on solar energy, Mr Walker said a switch from reliance on hydro-power to solar energy would enable the country to preserve the lifespan of the Akosombo Dam and also cut down on the amount of fuel used in generating power from the Aboadze Thermal Plant, especially considering the high cost of oil on the international market. Experts said the solar energy sector in the country was largely unexplored, accounting for a negligible percentage in the electricity mix.

Mr Walker said that the Government could help to improve the situation by providing subsidies as a means to encourage electrification in the rural communities by use of solar powered panels, especially in communities that were far away from the National Electricity Grid. He said although the initial cost for deployment of electricity powered by solar energy systems could be huge the long-term benefits of such a programme far outweighed the investment.

Mr Walker said Government could benefit substantially by asking beneficiaries to pay some monies monthly to recover whatever cost was used to deploy the system.

He said the Association would put their concerns and suggestions before the Minister of Energy to see how best they could work together to enhance the use of solar energy in the country. Mr Frede Bosten, Chairman of DENG Solar System, organisers of the workshop for the Electrical Contractors, said it was part of the continuous professional development of the contractors and to help them to increase their knowledge in solar energy.

He said solar modules were designed to withstand any weather condition, adding, however, that the amount of sunlight in a particular area could impact on the amount of electricity the solar power modules provided.

Mr Bosten said DENG had offered scholarships to individuals, solar companies and institutions to enable them to update their knowledge on solar energy at DENG. 23 Feb. 06

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