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Whilst Ghana has one of the highest energy access rates in Sub-Saharan Africa,29 access to energy in the remote agricultural and rural areas of the country is extremely challenging. High diesel costs and lack of infrastructure to reach last-mile communities was the primary reason for the project.
A challenge faced was the change in system design. Initially, it was planned to deliver a DRE system to enhance agricultural output through an increase in reliable energy. As the project progressed, it became apparent that the entire village in Ada Foah was in a state of extreme energy poverty with no access to electricity. Therefore, the scope of the project was then changed to develop a hybrid solar-wind mini-grid DRE system to provide energy for agricultural activity as well as for other basic energy needs of the village. The system also required hydraulic tilt-up towers for manual installation without the need for a crane.
A hybrid wind-solar mini-grid system was selected as the optimum solution. A farm was selected as the project site for the installation of the system based on the availability of a large open area as well as access to unobstructed wind. The system incorporates the following components:
The DRE system is used as the area’s primary energy source, providing over 316 kWh/day to the community and peak power of ~ 50 W. The different energy technologies complement one another to keep the generation flow constant day and night. Community training regarding operation and maintenance was undertaken to ensure the reliability and resilience of the system.
The total project cost was approximately EUR 180,000 which was funded with a grant from the United Nations. Trama TechnoAmbiental owns the DRE system. In terms of ongoing operation and maintenance, training was conducted by Ryse Energy’s team to the local communities to ensure resilience and reliability of the system. Operational costs are very low with the local community maintaining the system.
The DRE system enabled agriculture to blossom as water pumping and irrigation systems can now be operated. In addition to that, the local community of around 500 people gained access to electricity for basic needs, such as lighting and heating. The resulting energy access would’ve resulted in a reduction of 85 metric tonnes of CO2 per year if fossil fuels were utilised which is the amount of emissions avoided. An estimated 200 lives were positively impacted by the installation, creating over 20 jobs within the community.
The potential for replication and scale-up of this system is extremely high, the combination of wind, solar and energy storage creates a resilient and reliable system which generates consistent renewable energy for agricultural needs and wider community services. Ryse Energy believes the collaboration with the local community, system design, energy output was a great success. The highlight is the change of the project design from a purely agricultural installation to a village mini-grid.