General News of Sunday, 25 November 2018
The Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM), youth-based advocacy group, is leading an action for government to review and enforce Ghana’s Renewable Energy Act passed in 2011 by Parliament.
The GYEM contended that the passage of the Act in 2011 presented high hope of a more sustainable and reliable energy supply in the country in line with the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, but had not yielded any good results.
This aimed at generating 10 per cent of its electricity from solar, wind, bio-fuels and other sources by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions.
The youth advocacy group said series of activities were held in November 2017 as part of efforts towards addressing the legislative and regulatory constraints in the Act in favour of businesses, and initiating a national advocacy action to promote the development of renewable energy in the country.
This came to light at a stakeholders’ workshop in Accra on the Renewable Energy Act and its successes, barriers and opportunities since its passage.
Ms Sandra Cobblah, the National Coordinator of GYEM, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said currently renewable energy contributed only one per cent to the national power generation and described it as a discouraging statistics.
She said an evidence-based research analysis and review of key provisions in the Act, funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC), the Danish International Development Agency, United States Agency for International Development and the European Union, was initiated to facilitate the achievements of the 10 per cent total energy generation.
“Key finding of the review of the Act were challenges with license acquisition for renewable energy projects and cumbersome licensing procedures, poor financial investment mechanisms and lack of sufficient incentives in the renewable energy industry,” she said.
Ms Cobblah said the Renewable Energy Act also mentioned the establishment of a Renewable Energy Authority to oversee the implementation of renewable energy projects and activities by the State including the setting up of Renewable Energy Fund to support the industry, but unfortunately that was also not done.
“More seriously is the lack of a clear government policy direction for the process to attract investors and donor countries to support research, development, demonstration and deployment into the renewable energy technologies,” she said.
Ms Cobblah said one major challenge was the lack of adequate tax rebates and incentives, when the Act allowed a value added tax exemption for solar and wind generation systems.
She noted that most of the renewable energy technologies equipment are imported, but they do not enjoy tax exemptions.
The components, which should be tax free, were the biogas systems such as storage balloons, pipes and valves, solar water heater, small hydro plants and improved cookstoves, however, they did not enjoy those exemptions, she said.
She drew the attention of the Government, especially in the February 21, 2017 State of the Nation Address, which mentioned that the Renewable Energy Act needed a review to “provide further incentives to attract the private sector to invest.”
Mr Alex Donyinah, the Senior Energy Advisor of the Netherland Development Organisation (SNV), called on the Government to change the trend to enable the people to shift to the use of LPG or clean cookstoves.
He said renewable energy technologies were expensive to acquire even though they had enjoyed considerable promotion in the country while the public and consumers generally lacked a good understanding of it.