Given that energy remains key to the development of every country, the case in Ghana has taken a different turn, as consumption of energy has largely been decoupled from the rate of sustained economic growth.
Data from the Energy Commission has shown that Ghana’s energy intensity (kWh per unit of GDP), as with countries worldwide, has been declining over time as the country becomes richer and transitions to a service industry-oriented economy.
This phenomenon has been attributed to the sectors contributing to economic growth, but which are not the major consumers of energy in the economy.
For instance, data from the Energy Commission indicates that in 2000, industry was consuming 60 percent of energy produced whereas services and residential sectors were consuming 7 percent and 33 percent respectively. However, by the end of 2018, industry was consuming 31 percent of energy produced, whereas services and residential sectors consumption had increased significantly to 20 percent and 49 percent.
Energy intensity, as explained by experts, measures how much a certain amount of energy benefits the economy.
In an interview with the Director of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, Mr. Kofi Agyarko said, “Ghana is one of the few countries in the world to be able to achieve such a feat. Ordinarily every country develops on the availability of energy. So, as the economy expands, it calls for more consumption of power. The feet achieved in Ghana has been due to the efforts engaged by the government and regulators to conserve energy use in the country.”
“Conservation of energy has taken a deep root in the country. So, the economy is growing alright, however, the energy used to fuel the economic growth is at a measured rate,” Mr. Agyrako said.
That is how the country has been to decouple economic growth from energy consumption growth, he stated.
Energy audits undertaken of various commercial buildings in 2017 under the IRRP project indicated that 10-30 percent of electricity used could be saved through cost-effective housekeeping and equipment retrofitting measures, particularly in lighting and cooling, especially in an era of high retail tariffs.
A study completed in March 2019 under the IRRP project to assess Energy Efficiency and DSM Potential in Ghana, shows that the total top energy efficiency opportunities in Ghana amount to a technical energy saving potential of 6,350 gigawatt hours (GWh), which is about 31.7 percent of total forecasted load in 2021 (20 TWh). However, when several limiting assumptions are taken into consideration, the achievable energy savings potential in 2021 is considerably lower – but still significant – at 560 GWh, which is equivalent to about 2.8 percent of total forecasted load in that year.
Hence, the study has further shown that if the country is able to realize just the estimated achievable energy savings potential, this can reduce the energy demand by about 1.9 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2030, which amounts to about 6.5% of total load forecasted in 2030 (30,307 GWh). However, sustainable policy and regulatory actions are needed to support energy efficiency measures for the realization of the energy savings potential.