Think Energy Summit 2021 – DAY 2
The second and final day of the African Global Response Energy Environment (AGREE) Summit (2021) was as exciting as the opening ceremony. It started with brainstorming activities and ended with fun and a quiz competition.
The day started with a brief address by Bernhard von Prittwitz, founder of Prittwitz Consulting, a German Organization with high engineering knowhow and decades of experience in the field of sustainable technical education in Africa, on some government-sponsored programmes he was undertaking in Ghana.
Bernhard disclosed that, he was in partnership with three public universities in the country (University of Cape Coast, University of Mining and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) to train thousands of Ghanaian youth in mechanics, renewable energy and electrics.
Under the arrangement, technically skilled students or pre-trained technicians are taken through courses to become automotive technicians in car electrics, powertrain, suspension and brakes of different kinds of engines. In renewable energy, trainees are taken through photovoltaic and thermal systems while those pursuing electrics undergo training in house electrics and transmission of energy, among others. The current model is scheduled for 7 years but it is likely that more universities could be roped into the programme, after three years.
“Germany has a great deal of respect for Ghana. In fact the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ vision is a laudable idea”, he concluded.
Technical Session 2.1
The Energy Mix of Ghana in addressing SDGs 7/13 – Now and the Future
It is an indisputable fact that energy production contributes to a lot of carbon emissions in the world. But the nagging questions are: How fast must we transition to renewable energy and what are academia and CEOs saying regarding this?
In an attempt to answer these questions, Dr. Robert B.M Sogbadji of the Ministry of Energy walked participants through the current energy situation in the country in terms of Power and Petroleum; and posited that the vision of the ministry is basically for the country to be self-sufficient in the generation of sustainable energy for local consumption and export.
He said as a nation, we have virtually exhausted all our large hydroelectric resources, and that the only one left is the Pwalugu project. More worrying is the disclosure that even the remaining small hydro resources are being destroyed by the activities of galamseyers.
He pointed out that even though Ghana is taking strides in renewable energy, solar plants are in competition with arable land. One solution to this is what he called the ‘rooftop programme’ where panels are installed on the roof of huge public buildings. He said the ministry has come out with a new policy where public buildings are directed to ensure that at least 5% of their energy requirements are from renewable sources (solar). Other sources of power generation include Mini-Grid Renewable Electricity and Decentralized Off-grid Systems for small communities; all aimed at taking some pressure off the hydro/thermal systems.
“1D1F will not collapse if we expand our energy base. Since we are looking at e-mobility and electric cars, we must make electricity stable and affordable. Unfortunately, our gas alone cannot take us where we want to go as a nation. We must top-up by going nuclear. Nuclear is reliable because you can predict its prices even over the next 10 years”, Sogbadji said.
He said another worrying development is the way people seem to have an exaggerated phobia for nuclear power, largely as a result of a few unfortunate historical antecedents, and advised that we change that mindset.
“People fear nuclear energy because it had a bad childbirth from what happened in the days of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and from the Cold War era. But I need to state that it is the most regulated energy source in the world. Nuclear waste is very small and the threat of explosion is being exaggerated. We don’t need super-scientists to work in the nuclear industry. If we take nuclear out of our renewable energy considerations, very soon we will be importing energy from Nigeria”.
The panel, which included Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako (VC-UENR), Prof. Samuel Gyamfi (UENR) and Dr. Seth Kofi Debrah (Nuclear Power Institute) unanimously, agreed that transition must be done in an economically sustainable manner.
“In finding solutions to climate change, we must be wary of the fact that economies must survive just as we want Mother Earth to survive”, they concluded.
Technical Session 2.2
Bridging the gap between Industry and Academia for Equity Development in the Energy Sector
Panel: Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuako (GNPC), Prof. Amevi Ackpovi (Pro VC, Accra Technical University), Prof. K. Adinkrah-Appiah (VC STU) and Prof. Elvis Asare Bediako (VC UENR).
Discussions centered on the fact that education is not on its own an input in production. Apart from that returns on education in Developing Countries is much higher than in Advanced countries. Thirdly, said the relation between Policy makers and Academia is not an ‘either/or’ situation as they need each other.
Dr. Baah-Nuako said investing Ghana’s oil money in education is the most judicious decision to take. According to him, research had shown that investing in Senior High education, which comes with 18% returns, makes more sense than piling oil money in a Heritage Fund account that accrues an interest of only 2 per cent.
On the overlapping relationship between theory and practice, he said: “Practice may know WHAT to do and HOW to do it, but theory may know WHY it has to be done”.
He concluded by listing the endless investments GNPC had made in the education sector over the years and called on academic boards in the universities to be a little bit more flexible.
“Collaboration between industry and academia works, and it is the best way to go”, he stressed.
National Energy Quiz Finals
The 2021 Energy Summit was crowned with a keenly contested quiz that involved 10 universities across the country. After nearly two hours, Takoradi Technical University (TTU) made history by emerging the overall winner of the First National Energy Quiz Competition. This was after a 15-minute standoff which compelled the organizers to consult the ‘VAR’. University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and Sunyani Technical University (STU) took the first and second runner-up positons respectively. TTU was awarded with a trophy while all students and coaches who made it to the finals were awarded with certificates. The quiz mistress, Madam Adwoah Sey, tested students’ aptitude in Petroleum, Power, Buzzer/Bell and Community Relations.
In the Innovation Challenge category, UENR was adjudged the winner for inventing a Solar Bicycle.
Thanking participants at the closing ceremony, the CEO of AGREE Limited, Humphrey Tetteh, hinted that in the future, energy quiz competitions will also be organized for SHS students. He further disclosed that Tertiary institutions will in future be tasked to invent practical solutions for some nagging problems in the energy industry.
Compiled by: Bennett Akuaku