Chief Executive Officer, CEO, TC’s Energy, Mr. Anthony Opoku, has emphatically stated that the company’s power generation from the sea project at Ada Foah, Dangme East District, Greater Accra Region, is on course adding that by the end of 2022 that power will be fed into the national grid at Sogakope, Volta Region.
The project which the Ghana-based company is executing alongside Seabased, a Norway/Sweden consortium will see TC’s Energy and the foreign partners generate an initial 100MW from the Atlantic Ocean which will be ramped up to 1000 megawatts within 20 years.
Speaking exclusively to an Accra-based local language television station, he explained that the greatest hindrance the project has faced has been securing the finances to execute it but this has been overcome paving way for actual construction of the undersea facilities including the turbines to begin later this year.
Giving a background to the project, he said the energy crisis that bedeviled the country in recent years made him think of generating power locally but at a much more reduced cost. Currently Ghana derives her energy needs mostly from water (hydro) sources or fossil fuels such as gas or diesel while solar energy plays a minor role in power generation. Except for the solar energy generators, the other generation facilities come with their own challenges such as the dry weather which reduces water in the dams thereby reducing their generation capacity while the fluctuating cost of fossil fuels and attendant atmospheric pollution also negatively affect both the cost of power and the environment.
Generating power from the sea however comes at lesser cost as the volume of the sea water never fluctuates and therefore is not affected by the vagaries of the weather, this therefore guarantees a steady and reliable power generation and supply all year round.
Studies, Mr. Opoku revealed, have shown that the sea waves at Ada have the right height and strength to turn the undersea turbines and generate the needed power: same technology employed in generating power from inland rivers.
The technology, the CEO pointed out, has been invented but not deployed in Europe because of their uncertain weather pattern which makes their seas freeze or slow-down in the winter months and therefore unsuitable for power generation. This cyclical weather variation does not pertain to Africa especially Ghana which therefore makes the TC’s Energy’s undersea technology suitable for her.
He explained that the pilot project at Ada has proved immensely successful and the company too is using the findings to correct some technical challenges which will ensure that the project comes on stream successfully despite opposition from competitors who sensing that TC’s Energy will deliver cheaper power are employing various methods to frustrate the project.
‘This cynicism forced us to adopt the latest technology, a move which has made many to accuse us of bluffing which unfortunately is not the case; it was the reluctance of local companies to step forward and collaborate with us which forced us to go it alone.
‘Energy experts elsewhere we have discussed with have accepted that the technology is good and the project viable; they are encouraging us because they know what is involved and the level of its viability,’ he added.
The chief executive also explained that the unexpected delays have also enabled his company and technical partners to fine tune and redesign the machines to be more efficient while collaborating with a multinational company which is currently accessing the technical profitability of the project. In addition, TC’s Energy is also having further talks with other willing financiers and probable co-investors.
He admitted that the project has dragged on for so long and incurring cost making some investors impatient but he gave the assurance that the Swedish partners are very much interested in seeing the project through to its logical conclusion. That commitment from the Swedes has prompted that country’s ambassador and other European partners to pay a visit to the project site in Ada.
TC’s Energy, he revealed, has signed various memorandum of understanding, (MOUs) with many foreign companies while a local bank and insurance company are on board taking care of the banking and insurance needs of the project.
The biggest challenge the project faces, he explained, is that many do not understand the technology being deployed hence their reluctance to fully commit themselves into it.
‘The challenge is that many do not understand the technology we are deploying; this is a novelty which they would have embraced wholeheartedly if we had launched it outside Ghana before bringing it here.
‘The feasibility has proved that we are on course, TC’s Energy has signed MOUs with multinationals and bringing in investors with the needed funds; now everyone must be calm because the project is on course,’ he confidently stated.
For now, according to Mr. Opoku, US$200m is available for the commencement of the project; the technical aspect has been fully sorted out while 95% of financing has also been secured with both local and foreign banks geared up and rearing to go.
The project, he revealed has the needed political support as the two major political parties – the ruling New Patriotic Party, NPP, and the opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC, – are all in support as they know that its successful implementation will improve Ghana’s socio-economic fortunes.
‘My interest goes beyond the financial benefits for TC’s Energy; my motivation lies in the fact that we are Ghanaians executing this project for our country, we cannot expect outsiders to do it for us, Ghana must be first as ultimately it will generate jobs and improve the livelihood for both residents in the project’s catchment area and the country as a whole,’ he explained.
The initial investment is high, he admitted, but explained that the cost to consumers will be reduced as the 2022 completion date for phase one of the project draws closer meaning the initial US$0.10 per kilowatt hour cost could be reviewed downwards most especially when the company increases its power generation capacity.
Part of the huge cost, he also explained will be due to the overhead high tension cables that evacuate the power from Ada to feed it into the national grid in Sogakope about 35 kilometres away but outside this, every other cost is manageable, he concluded.