In November 2020, our partner WestfalenWIND travelled to Ghana to install a PV-hybrid power system at Kologo, Ghana. In March 2021, Mohammed Abass returned to the health facility to finish the set-up. In this article, he illustrates the necessity, application, and management of the system.
In Twi, one of the local languages in Ghana, dumsors are power cuts due to low voltage or high-energy demand. They happen frequently and can last for days or weeks. Dumsors impede the work progress of many companies and workplaces, especially health facilities, where electric power is needed the most. Sometimes, communities even must take turns to not overstrain the electricity grid. This is a huge problem for health centres, as they need cooling systems for their vaccines and other drugs that need to be stored at certain temperatures.
In this interview, Silvan Rummeny from Cologne University of Applied Sciences highlights the development of the advisor and planning tool MiGUEL. It is an open-source-based library which is developed within the EnerSHelF project and later made available online.
You are involved in the EnerSHelF project within work package 3.3a. Can you tell us about your role in the project and the goal of your work package?
On the one hand, our role in the EnerSHelF project is to improve the knowledge of load data of Ghanaian hospitals. On the other hand, we aim to improve the implementability of micro grid projects in the Ghanaian health sector by developing an advisor and planning tool for such micro grids. The tool can be used to design and evaluate Photovoltaic (PV)-diesel-hybrid systems for Ghanaian health facilities. Our goal is to provide users with suitable solutions on how to change the microgrid design and with which planning strategy they can achieve their micro grid development goals and roadmaps in the most cost-effective way. The target groups are project developers, engineering companies, and private as well as public grid operators who want to implement micro or mini grids.
In March 2021, a group of researchers from the EnerSHelF project published a paper in the IZNE Working Paper Series: “PV-diesel-hybrid system for a hospital in Ghana – Connection of a PV battery storage model to an existing generator model”. Matthias Bebber, leading author of the paper, summarizes the working paper in this article. You can access the paper on the H-BRS website.
In our paper, we present a model of a grid-integrated PV-diesel-hybrid system. The model is based on an existing simulation tool from Cologne University of Applied Sciences and was further developed in the context of this paper. By means of real measurement data of PV yield and electricity consumption of a hospital in Ghana – collected in a period from February 2016 to 2017 – the behaviour of the hybrid system in different scenarios is examined. The influence of power outages and seasonal differences in solar radiation on the use of generator and electricity demand from the public power grid for different battery sizes is considered. Special attention is paid to the meteorological and atmospheric characteristics in Ghana, such as the rainy and dry seasons, as well as the harmattan, a seasonal wind in West Africa that carries a lot of dust.
Interview with Dr. Catherina Cader from Reiner Lemoine Institut. She talks about the application of spatial data for the EnerSHelF project.
In a previous interview, you and your colleague Philipp Blechinger introduced the objective of work package 3.4 within the EnerSHelF project. What has been achieved since then?
Since the last time we spoke, we deep dived into the data collection, assessment, and analysis to get an understanding of what kind of geo-spatial data is available. We put a strong focus on collecting and compiling all the data which have location specific attributes – meaning geo-coordinates. One part of this process is the visualization. We display the data in maps with different foci – for instance by extracting attributes for the regions of Ghana – and overlay different datasets to generate new insights. Fortunately, we were quite successful in identifying several datasets that work towards our project goal. For some, we were able use them as they were while others needed some post-processing to make them more useful for our purposes. For now, that was one of the key objectives before working towards the goal of developing an electrification strategy.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of vast opportunity and potential. With African energy demand predicted to grow twice as fast as the global average over the next two decades, Africa faces unique challenges in meeting this demand (International Energy Agency (IEA), 2019).
The growing weight of Africa’s energy needs are often felt when electricity consumption surpasses supply, leading to blackouts hampering production. These outages, also called “dumsor” in Ghana have become a familiar occurrence for many Africans, as they grapple without access to power for several hours daily.
In Search of High-Powered Solutions
In Ghana, these occurrences pose a severe burden to the healthcare sector, as for example, the cold chain for required vaccines and blood supply may be cut, the light in the operating room may go out or life-saving medical equipment may fail. With the continent having the richest solar resources on the planet, photovoltaic (PV) power, which harnesses energy from sunlight, could be the driver of future energy growth.
However, the PV market in Ghana requires further expansion and innovation, if it is to keep pace with the country’s accelerating demand for energy. According to the World Bank, only 3% of the population can currently access PV power through off-grid systems in West Africa and the Sahel (World Bank, 2017). Innovative solutions are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy and health access.