Seth Agbeve Mahu

Seth Agbeve Mahu

Promoting Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) in Ghana - A Case Study of the Gedap Business Development Support Project

by Seth Agbeve Mahu, Ghana (PPRE 2005/07)
Deputy Director, Ministry of Power, Ghana

GEDAP Project Background

The Ghana Energy Development & Access Project (GEDAP), is a multi-donor funded project with the objective to improve the operational efficiency of the electricity distribution system and increase the population’s access to electricity and to support Ghana’s transition to a low-carbon economy through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 
Since 2007, the project has provided various supports in transforming the renewable energy landscape of Ghana including the development of key policies and regulatory frameworks such as the renewable energy Act 2011 (Act 832), the RE-FiT and off-grid RE pricing methodologies, private sector business models for renewable energy uptake and PV-based electrification of off-grid public institutions.
This paper analyses the impact of the Business Development Support Fund (BDSF) component of the GEDAP project. The objective was to provide technical assistance through matching grants to renewable energy projects, firms and service providers in Ghana to pilot various RETs and to achieve business service bankability 
Eligible activities included support for the preparation of business plans, market development, feasibility studies, financing application documentation, environmental and social impact assessment of small and mini-hydro projects, set-up of local solar PV dealership, etc. In addition, 50% matching grants were made available to support the costs of piloting innovative ways of supplying renewable energy (mini-grid and grid-connected, as well as off-grid) services.

The report looks at the business model and renewable energy technologies for improving agriculture productivity in a smallholder farm (Tiptop Farms) in Anloga in the Volta Region of Ghana.

The before support Scenario

Founded in 2005 and located in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region, the 20 acre farm uses shallow tube wells and micro irrigation scheme to produce vegetables for both the local and the international market. The farm was established as a result of the need for modernization of agriculture in the coastal belt of Ghana and has served as a centre for collaborative learning for the University of Ghana, some Polytechnics and Farm Institutes. The Farm was faced with the following challenges:

  1. High electricity tariff and price volatility,
  2. Interrupted electrical power supply from the national utility with its attendant adverse effects on productivity,
  3. High cost of wood fuel for processing of agricultural produce to reduce post-harvest losses and meat,
  4. Persistent outbreak of fungi and bacteria diseases arising from the application of untreated organic wastes.

On average, the farm spent GHS 3,000.00 (US$ 780.00) on energy monthly which represented 15% of production cost. The sanitation situation on the farm was in a terrible state especially the stench emanating from the faecal matter of the pig sty.

The support from GEDAP BDS Fund

In 2013, the BSD fund through a merit and transparent process provided a total of (US$ 30,000.00) representing 50% of the project cost whereas the farm contributed 25% in cash and 25% in-kind (civil materials and labour) to undertake the following pilot initiatives.

  1. Construction of a biogas facility: A 5m3 anaerobic biogas digester which utilises the solid and liquid wastes generated in pig sty to produce biogas enough to replace woodfuel hitherto supplied from the fast depleting mangrove in the municipality. The low-pathogen rich slurry is used as a manure to enrich the soil.
  2. Installation of solar PV for water pumping: A 1.6kWp solar water pumping system was installed and integrated into the irrigation scheme of the farm. The system is capable to irrigate nearly half of the farm and provided reliable energy supply.
  3. Installation of wind power generator: A 2kWp wind turbine was installed and integrated into the electrical power system of the farm to take advantage of the favourable wind resource in the area to complement the solar pumping facility and to ultimately electricity for powering lighting and other essential loads.

Impact and Challenges

  1. The environmental menace has reduced significantly and the soil conditions improved on the farm. The vegetable yields have increased by nearly 15% with the corresponding increase in income.
  2. About 30% of the total energy demand on the farm is met by renewable energy and cost of electricity reduced by 35%. Having experienced the immediate benefits, the farm has procured a 5KVA biogas-powered plant (expandable to 20kVA) for installation and powered on the excess biogas.
  3. Post-harvest lost has reduced if not eliminated, as farm is able to supply on regular basis raw materials to its processing subsidiary. The farm won the coveted Small Scale Food Processing Award in December, 2014.
  4. Over 10 students and researchers have undertaken various research works and internships on the farm since the integration of RETs.
  5. More than 50 local farmers have also benefited from hands-on capacity building in PURE, and are adopting PURE to enhance productivity and profitability.
  6. A scale-up project with funding under the GIZ Endev project has commenced in earnest to improve productivity and increase incomes in small holder farms through the promotion of Solar PV-based and grid connected irrigation.
(Changed: 2020-01-23)