Transforming Education with Solar Power: A Study on UESD's Renewable Energy Potential

CoE-EDP, VisionRICoE-EDP, VisionRI | Updated: 18-06-2024 18:10 IST | Created: 18-06-2024 18:10 IST
Transforming Education with Solar Power: A Study on UESD's Renewable Energy Potential
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A study from the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Ghana explores the feasibility and benefits of implementing rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) in Ghana. Due to high electricity costs, Ghanaian schools often face financial difficulties, leading to frequent disconnections from the grid. This study aims to assess how solar PV systems can help reduce these costs by providing a reliable and sustainable energy source.

Harnessing Ghana's Solar Potential

Ghana has abundant solar resources, making it an ideal location for solar PV electricity generation. The government has also introduced incentives like feed-in tariffs and tax breaks to promote solar energy adoption. Educational institutions like UESD can leverage these resources to meet their electricity needs, reduce their environmental impact, and serve as models of sustainability. The study involves a comprehensive techno-economic analysis, including a solar resource assessment, an electricity demand assessment, a cost analysis, and an environmental impact evaluation. Historical solar radiation data were analyzed to determine the potential for solar energy generation. The current and future energy needs of UESD were evaluated, and both capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) were considered. The potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was also assessed.

Economic Viability and Environmental Benefits

Google Earth software was used to estimate the rooftop surface areas of the university buildings. This data helped calculate the potential energy harvest from the PV systems. The economic analysis used metrics such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), discounted payback period (DPP), and profitability index (PI) to evaluate the project's financial viability. The results showed that using the rooftops of school structures could provide the necessary electricity for local consumption and even generate excess power for sale to the grid. The NPV, IRR, IP, and DPP recorded were GHS 15.15 million, 21 percent, 1.6, and 8 years, respectively. This indicates significant potential for reducing operational costs and contributing to a sustainable energy transition.

A Model for Sustainability in Education

The increasing global demand for clean and sustainable energy sources has made it crucial for UESD to explore renewable energy options to meet its electricity needs. By adopting solar PV technology, UESD aims to generate electricity on campus, reduce its environmental footprint, and contribute to a greener energy future. The study's findings can guide decision-makers and stakeholders in understanding the economic feasibility and potential benefits of solar PV electricity generation. This could influence policy development and encourage further investments in renewable energy within the education sector, promoting a more sustainable and resilient energy future for Ghana.

Financial Independence Through Solar Energy

The results show that UESD's total installed electrical load is 601.73 kW, with the Multipurpose Auditorium & Tech 1 having the highest load. The Lab is the highest consuming facility, followed by the Lecture Hall and Residency. The estimated annual energy consumption is 52,931 MWh, while the actual consumption is 360,580 MWh. The analysis revealed that UESD's rooftops could accommodate 5,215 solar panels, generating an estimated 4,568.54 MWh annually. The economic indicators suggest that the project is financially viable, with an NPV of GHS 15.15 million, IRR of 21 percent, DPP of 8 years, and IP of 1.6.

In conclusion, rooftop solar PV systems at UESD are economically viable and can address the financial challenges faced by educational institutions in Ghana. By adopting solar PV technology, these institutions can achieve financial independence, reduce electricity costs, and contribute to environmental sustainability. The findings highlight the importance of policy support for renewable energy projects and encourage further investments in the education sector. The successful implementation of solar PV systems at UESD can serve as a model for other institutions in Ghana, promoting a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

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