Ghana has rich natural resources and significant hydropower potential. The energy sector today is a mixture of thermal, hydropower and small solar developments. Total grid electricity generation in 2018 was 14,069 GWh of which 4,991 GWh (39.2 per cent) was from hydropower. This is accounted for by three hydropower stations: Akosombo (1,020 MW), Kpong (160 MW) and Bui (404 MW). Hydropower makes up 40 per cent of total electric installed capacity.
The construction of Akosombo, commissioned in 1965, launched a revolution in the energy sector, expanding electricity access to the wider population and allowing exports of electricity to neighbouring countries. Hydropower generation has been since then an integral part of Ghana´s electricity mix, peaking in 2000 with 73 per cent of total installed electricity capacity. Over the last decade, electricity demand has grown rapidly, with a 52 per cent increase since 2008.
Ghana committed to universal access to electricity as far back as 1989 when only 15-20 per cent of the population had access to electricity. By 2016, this figure had risen to 82.5 per cent. Ghana is also participating in the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, which sets a universal access target for 2030.
The government is focusing on securing electricity supply by means of diversification, in order to deliver a more resilient and dynamic energy sector. The government’s goal is to add 10 per cent of power supplied by non-hydro renewable energy sources by 2020. This renewable energy for electricity is expected to come mainly from solar, wind, biomass and municipal solid waste, but also smaller scale hydropower plants.
Despite the increase in generation capacity, which has outstripped demand, the country has experienced power supply shortages due to fuel supply challenges and high losses in the distribution system. In a 2018 World Energy Council survey, Ghana’s energy leaders identified the energy-water nexus, along with corruption as critical uncertainties faced by the sector. Digitalisation and grid optimisation are now emerging as preferred solutions to address power shortages through improving efficiency.
Hydropower generation has declined in recent years because of low reservoir levels. In 2018, Akosombo had to operate three turbines out of the six units during off-peak periods and up to four turbines during peak periods in order to keep above its minimum operating level by the end of the dry season. Currently only about half the country’s hydropower installed capacity is available.
From 2017 to mid 2018, Ghana was a net exporter of electricity. Improving interconnection lines is one of the country’s policy priorities. Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) has agreed to build a new computerised maintenance management system to help optimise grid operations, which will help the country to continue supplying electricity to Burkina Faso.
This country profile is featured in the 2019 Hydropower Status Report. Download the report: hydropower.org/statusreport
This profile was last updated in May 2019.