US energy firm to build soar parks

A multinational solar energy firm, International Solar Utilities (ISU), is conducting feasibility studies at Akatakyi in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region for the construction of solar parks that will add 600 megawatts of power to the national electricity grid.

The construction of the solar parks is estimated at $750 million and would create about 2000 direct and 6000 indirect jobs.

The Chief Operating Officer of ISU, Mr. James Brown, told the Ghana News Agency in Takoradi that ISU would initially construct a photovoltaic (PV) mono-crystalline solar panel factory at Tema and said work is expected to start in June. He said the factory would cost $85 million and that it would produce 820,000 highly efficient solar panels each year with manufacturing output of 300MW.

Mr. Brown said the solar panel factory at Tema would feed the ISU’s utility scale solar parks at six sites in Western, Greater Accra and Central regions to generate a total of 600 MW of solar energy, which would be connected to the national grid to distribute electricity consistently throughout the country with the goal of 100% energy sustainability.

He said the company had already secured 800 acres of land at Akatakyi in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region for the construction of solar parks and said each solar park would occupy 400 acres of land that would generate 100MW of solar energy.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ISU, Mr. Mahmood Mufti, also told the GNA in a separate interview that after a vigorous site selection process, 577 acres of flat land was chosen on Tema/Akosombo Road for the manufacturing of the solar panels and onsite PV solar park.

He said Ghana was identified as a suitable place for solar energy generation because of the government’s commitment to renewable energy development as well as the stability, safety and tax incentives in the country.

Mr. Mufti said the country conveniently served as a central location where solar panels could be exported to other Africa countries.

In addition, the solar parks and solar panels manufacturing site at Tema would have direct access to the national grid via existing 116 kV transmission lines that flow from the Akosombo hydro power plant towards Tema and Accra.

In view of this, he said, the solar parks would be connected to these transmission lines to supply electricity to the national grid with the mission of facilitating economic growth.

Mr Mufti said ISU would manufacture PN365 Mono-Gold Line, which are highly efficient photovoltaic (PV) mono-crystalline solar panels manufactured using cutting edge technology and premium quality mono-crystalline solar cells.

He said each PN365 solar panel would be manufactured from 72 mono-crystalline solar cells made from pure silica with a rated output of 365 watts, and an efficiency conversion of 22%.

Mr. Mufti said the primary unique characteristic of the PN365 Mono-Gold Line solar panels was that they would be manufactured using a new assembly method called “glass on glass.”

This method utilizes glass on the front and back surfaces of the finished solar panel, whereas traditional assembly only utilizes glass on the front absorbing surface.

He said the advantages of “glass on glass” panels included lower operating temperature, lower manufacturing costs, and increased durability by eliminating the need for a frame around the panels, less associated maintenance, and an extended product life expectancy.

The government has often expressed its determination of addressing the load-shedding challenge currently confronting the country and had always advocated for public/private participation in solving the country’s energy needs.

Ghana’s energy capacity currently stands at around 2,900MW and targets reaching 5,000MW by 2016. GNA

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