After extensive negotiations with Ghana’s Ministry of Energy, AIE (African International Energy PLC) has been granted two hydropower field concessions on the Ankobra River, in the Western Region of Ghana, to help relieve an ever-mounting energy crisis in, what is now, the fastest growing economy in the world – with growth of 14% in 2011 alone.
AIE is an international energy player listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and is set to become the largest independent energy producer in Africa. The company has already tied up large gas fields along the Western Coast of South Africa to produce electricity from gas. The company has also made major inroads into Nigeria and more recently, Ghana – thereby increasing its traction to provide clean and renewable energy to Africa, a continent that is steering towards a massive electricity crisis.
The two hydropower plants proposed by AIE in Ghana will produce 50MW and 90MW respectively – a total output of 140MW. These plants will be developed at a cost of approximately $160 million.
AIE is proposing to use Run-of-the-River (ROR) technology for its Ankobra River project, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional hydro-electric plants as it does not require a large impoundment of water – which invariably involves the flooding of large tracts of land, and possible displacement of the population.
It is the Ghanaian government’s policy to include renewable energy in the electricity generation mix, and AIE’s proposed Run-of-the-River hydro-electric plant technology is therefore consistent with this stance. The country’s Renewable Energy Bill, which has a feed-in-tariff component to ensure return on investment for independent power providers, is currently in the advanced stages of being passed into Ghanaian law. AIE expects a minimum of 15% return on the project from supply agreements in place to connect to the existing electricity grid.
As a company, AIE is focused on the under-serviced energy industry market in Africa – a rapidly developing continent whose energy demands are increasing exponentially. Project development is targeted within African economies that have a good supply of clean and renewable energy resources, as well as familiar and favourable independent power producer legislation. Ghana – as the world’s fastest growing economy, and one of the continent’s more robust democracies – is a perfect fit for AIE, according to CEO, Aldworth Mbalati.
Africa’s rapid economic growth (much of it backed by massive investment from China) is under threat from a deepening energy crisis as governments struggle to expand an ageing energy infrastructure and build a power generation foundation for future business and industrial manufacturing. With mounting pressure on countries to reduce carbon emissions in line with global targets, there is a rush to find sustainable, clean and renewable energy. AIE is actively positioning itself to be the central player in this field by working with local governments as an independent power producer focused on clean energy generation and solutions. Current AIE projects include natural gas development, hydropower generation and underground coal gasification, with renewable resources such as wind and solar powered projects also on the radar.