European firms announces plans to develop Ghana wind farm

Out-Law News | 23 Sep 2014 | 3:56 pm | 2 min. read

Irish-based international wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power has signed an agreement with Swiss wind farm developer NEK Umwelttechnik to buy the 225 megawatt (MW) AyitepaWind Farm on the east coast of Ghana.

Mainstream said the project, which represents a total investment of $525 million, is expected to reach financial close next year and start generating power early in 2016.

When fully operational the wind farm, around 50 kilometres from Accra, will supply about 10% of Ghana’s total electricity generating capacity.

NEK said it has been planning the project, which it said will be the first large scale wind farm in West Africa, “over a period of several years”. The project is at “an advanced development stage”, NEK said.

Mainstream said the companies will co-develop the wind farm until financial close. Mainstream will manage the construction as well as the operations and maintenance of the wind farm for its lifecycle. The project is “in the latter stages of development with all major permits secured”, Mainstream said. Grid and off-take agreements are being finalised.

Mainstream’s chief executive officer Eddie O’Connor said: “This wind farm is the ideal solution for Ghana because the country needs large quantities of electricity and it needs it fast. Wind and solar power are the only proven technologies in the world today which can achieve the dual objectives of speed of deployment and scale. The AyitepaWind Farm is well advanced and can be generating electricity in less than 18 months from now.”

The director of renewable energy at Ghana’s energy and petroleum ministry Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo said: “It is my hope that this agreement between NEK and Mainstream will accelerate the process towards the realisation of wind farms in Ghana.”

Ahiataku-Togobo said the project is in line with government policies aimed at increasing the contribution of hydro, solar, biomass and wind to the electricity generation mix. He said Ghana’s Renewable Energy Act of 2011 offered incentives to independent power producers including feed-in-tariffs (15-page / 192 KB PDF).

Ahiataku-Togobo said: “The government has more than two years of bankable wind energy data along the south eastern corridor of the country where wind energy prospects are very encouraging.”

Mainstream is a member of the consortium that owns the continent’s largest operating wind farm at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa. That farm spans 3,700 hectares on which there are 60 wind turbines generating around 460,000 MW annually. Mainstream said it has three operational wind and solar farms and an additional three “large-scale wind farms ready to go into construction this year”.

Ghana’s government has said it is on course to achieve its 5,000 MW domestic power generation target by 2016. The country is also poised to achieve gas-based generation for 80% of the country’s thermal power plants by 2015. Biomass accounts for 57% of total energy use in Ghana (30-page / 2.28 MB PDF). A feasibility study is also under way into the potential for further hydro power projects in the country.

Earlier this year, Ghana’s parliamentarians were told of government plans to connect 90% of communities in the country to the national grid by 2016.