Africa's biggest floating PV project debuts in Ghana; Renewables set to drive aluminium demand

AL Circle

The Bui reservoir in Ghana is now home to the continent's largest floating solar photovoltaic (PV) project. This remarkable achievement underscores Ghana's commitment to sustainable solutions and sets a precedent for the region facing escalating environmental challenges.

Africa's biggest floating PV project debuts in Ghana; Renewables set to drive aluminium demand

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The 5-megawatt floating solar PV system, now operational at the Bui generating station, represents a remarkable engineering achievement. Ghana has effectively utilised existing infrastructure without encroaching on land or disrupting natural habitats by harnessing the sun's energy on water.

Ghana's power generation history has evolved significantly over time. Initially relying on diesel generators and independent electricity systems owned by industrial mines and factories, the country transitioned into the hydroelectric phase following the construction of the Akosombo dam. Ghana has entered a phase where thermal power generation, fuelled by gas or light crude oil, complements its energy mix.

Yet, Ghana has witnessed a persistent issue of power shortages, the consequences of which are increasingly severe, posing a threat to economic growth and transformation.

This innovative project marks a paradigm shift in renewable energy deployment, focusing on maximising efficiency while minimising environmental impact. Integrating solar panels with the reservoir facilitates energy generation and potentially enhances panel efficiency by benefiting from the cooling effect of water.

Moreover, the project synergises solar power with Ghana's hydroelectric capabilities, establishing a hybrid plant that promises a resilient energy future. This dual approach ensures reliable, clean energy access and supports economic growth by providing sustainable electricity to communities and businesses.

Beyond immediate energy benefits, the project contributes significantly to Ghana's environmental goals. Avoiding deforestation and land clearance safeguards the country's biodiversity and maintains ecological balance. Additionally, the coexistence of solar panels with the reservoir may create new habitats for aquatic life, a promising sign for the enrichment of local ecosystems.

The inauguration of this floating solar PV project represents a pivotal moment for Ghana, propelling the nation towards its objective of universal electricity access by 2030. This milestone improves living standards and positions Ghana as a leader in renewable energy innovation on the African continent.

As Ghana continues to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, the impact of this project is poised to inspire neighbouring countries to adopt similar initiatives, fostering a collective effort towards a greener and more resilient future for all.

In October 2014, it was announced that two electricity-generating vessels being constructed by a Turkish subsidiary would, upon completion, generate more than a fifth of Ghana's total electricity demand.

Solar plant in Ghana

Karpowership Ghana Company, a subsidiary of Karadeniz Energy Group from Turkey's Karadeniz Holding, will assist the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum by offering a comprehensive solution to swiftly provide electricity to meet the nation's significant energy requirements.

Under a ten-year power purchase agreement signed in June, Karpowership Ghana Company Limited will construct two floating power stations, expected to cost approximately $1.2 billion in total.

AL Circle's industry-focused report, "Global Aluminium Industry Outlook 2024", unveiled that the renewable energy sector will be a new entry in the top demand drivers list for aluminium (Solar, floating PV & Wind Turbines).

Among the world’s top 10 FPV projects in terms of size, nine are in China. The lone exception is the Cirata FPV project in West Java, Indonesia, commissioned in November 2023. In the global shift towards a more sustainable future, aluminium emerges as a key player. According to a 2020 World Bank study, aluminium is the predominant mineral material in solar photovoltaic (PV) applications. Remarkably, over 85 per cent of the mineral material demand for various solar PV components, ranging from frames to panels, is met by this metal.

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