Solar street lights will save Ghana $33million a year

According to experts, over 30% of all energy used by cities is used in street lighting. Street Lighting has become one of the key necessities of our daily life activities, especially at night.

However, it is one of the vampires in our energy use. Rising energy needs oblige investment in sustainable and clean energy production and use. As a social facility, street light is a key indicator of socio-economic development position of a country. Streetlights also play an important role in improving the general business and living climate of urban and peri-urban areas.

Due to the high demand on the national grid, it is important to diversify the country’s energy system and supply. Such diversification would require energy efficient technologies and sources of energy that is independent of the national grid such as solar power.

Ghana has a rising trend in street lights energy consumption. A consumption that has risen from 31 GWh in 2000 to 382 GWh in 2014.

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Residential 1,956 2,130 2,095 2,269 2,418 2,738 2,761 2,803 3,228 3,223
Non-Residential 676 790 802 927 884 966 1,041 1,153 1,525 1,522
Industrial 2,542 3,593 2,687 2,963 2,921 3,156 3,900 4,153 4,224 5,055
Street Lighting 85 144 137 171 184 264 274 315 377 382
Total 5,259 6,657 5,721 6,330 6,407 7,124 7,976 8,424 9,355 10,182

Source: ECG, NEDCo, VRA and GRIDCo

With per kWh tariff of 8.67US Cents, the energy consumption by the traditional street lights amounts to $33,119,400 USD annually.

Converting all existing traditional street lights into solar street light will mean that the Ghana will save 382 GWh (3.75%) of our energy and 33M USD annually.

Table 2 – Tariff Regime

Tariff Category Tariff Band PURC Approved Rates (GHp/kWh) PURC Approved Rates (US Cents/kWh)
1st Tier 0-50 33.56 8.67
2ndTier 51-300 67.33 17.40
3rd Tier 301-600 87.38 22.58
4th Tier 600+ 97.09 25.09

Globally, traditional street lighting consumes about 159 TWh of electricity annually. A reduction of consumption by 50% would eliminate around 80 TWH of electricity consumption and avoid around 40 MtCO2 per year.

Yearly Consumption Cost of A Single Street Light Pole

Hours of Usage (hrs) 12
Wattage of Bulb (W) 400
Rate per kWh (USD) 0.0867
Consumption per day (kWh) 9.6
Consumption per year (kWh) 3,504
Cost per day (USD) 0.8323
Cost per year (USD) 303.8

Depending on the size of the city or the region’s services, the share of street lights on our electricity bills can vary between 5% to up to 60%.

It is for this reason that the need to adopt the use of solar energy to power streetlights remains an attractive venture.

Using solar for Public Street lighting creates the opportunities to reduce grid energy demand, possible financial savings from reduced electricity use and reduce related GHG emissions. Other benefits for the Government include Energy conservation and efficiency (i.e., reducing operation hours, the number of lights and power).

The possibility of harnessing the solar radiation to power streetlight is very viable since most parts of Ghana receive sunshine throughout the year.

Installation of traditional lighting, which means tying your light fixtures to an electrical grid system, requires trenching and underground wiring. The process is lengthy, costly and inconvenient. Then, you costs associated with underground wiring, on-site transformers and electrical enclosures which are often greater than newly installed solar lights.

Additionally, if your project is in environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands, along with a seashore, or in sensitive ecosystems, solar lights minimise the impact on nature by avoiding below-grade services and unsightly enclosures.

With commercial solar lighting systems, projects are self-contained and shovel ready. It typically takes only four to six weeks from initial inquiry to installation.

Regardless of whether you are installing new solar lighting or converting traditional to solar, you eliminate ongoing payments for electricity and you never have to worry about dumsor.

Author: Maxmillian Kwarteng | mkwarteng21@gmail.com