Bui Power Authority starts 250MW solar farm next month
The Bui Power Authority (BPA) has started processes towards the setting up of a 250 megawatt solar plant to boost grid power supply, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the authority, Mr Fred Oware, has said.
He said discussions for the installation of the first 50MW under the “Bui Hydro-Solar Hybrid Scheme” had been completed and the installation was expected to come on stream in the second quarter of next year, with construction works on the solar farm scheduled to start in July this year.
According to Mr Oware, the project would be funded by private sector partners who had signed a 15-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract with the authority.
The hybrid system
Mr Oware said the switch yard of the Bui generating station had been expanded to accommodate solar power installations, while the workers were being trained for the new project.
He said the hydro-solar hybrid scheme was to explore opportunities and advantages that existed with a combined cycle of hydro and solar power generation.
“The generation of energy from solar resource is intermittent and normally require a back-up system such as batteries or capacitors to be able to supply uninterrupted electricity. As such, the Bui generating station would use batteries (storage) for the solar Photovoltaic (PV) cells,” he explained.
The CEO indicated that a hybrid system had the advantage of allowing the Bui hydro plant to maintain its operations at peak time and offer support at other times as may be required.
“Upon the installation of the 250MW Solar PV plant, the Bui Generating Station should still be capable of running its normal evening-peak time operations, while at the same time collaborating with the solar plant during the off-peak (daytime) period by providing the needed intermittency mitigation, power modulation and voltage regulation,” he explained.
That means that during the day when the sun is very hot, the Bui dam will generate most of its power from solar sources, while at peak times, usually from the evening, the stored power from the battery would augment the hydro-generated power to maintain a consistent power supply into the national electricity grid.
Renewable energy revolution
According to Mr Oware, the location of the Bui Generating Station fell within adequate solar resources in the country and that solar energy was one of the cleanest and safest forms of energy for the environment.
He said the solar farms would be located within the land area that was acquired for the further expansion of the Bui Hydroelectric Project.
Considering the abundance of sunshine in the country, he said, there was the need to focus on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, adding that the Bui Power Authority would kick-start a renewable energy revolution.
“We need to exploit renewable energy, considering the abundance of sunshine. It is a cheap resource and prices of electricity would go down if we adopt it,” he said.
The Bui Hydroelectric Power Project was inaugurated in December 2013 and it is one of the three main hydroelectric power plants in the country.
The 400-megawatt capacity dam lies on the Black Volta river at the Bui Gorge in the Brong Ahafo Region and has been backing up power supply during peak periods.