Prospects for the application of low wind speed turbines for rural electrification in Ghana

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Recent studies on wind resource in Ghana by Energy Commission and other bodies indicate that there exists moderate wind resource potential in Ghana which could be exploited for small wind applications, especially in the remote/rural areas where there exist more than 46% of the country’s households without electricity. This thesis assesses the prospects for the application of low wind speed turbine technology in Ghana. Ghana has moderate wind speeds, especially, some areas along the coast, of 4.8 to 5.5 m/s at 12 m a.g.l., that are suitable for small wind turbine applications. It was observed that small wind turbines are mostly used in low wind speed regimes because small wind turbines have the characteristics of starting at low wind speed, thereby, extracting power from low speeds. The cut-in wind speed is generally 3 m/s A wind energy project, “Power to the Poor in Ghana” project, is taken as a case study. Data is collected and analyzed both technically and economically with RETScreen and Wind Energy Payback Workbook. The case study analyzed revealed that the application of the small wind turbine is mostly for lighting and powering of refrigerators, computers, televisions, radio/cassette players, ceiling fans, and commercial battery charging among other uses. In the economic evaluation, the annual worth and the unit cost of electricity generation from imported and locally-made wind turbines are analyzed, and compared with solar photovoltaic and petrol generator, as alternative sources for rural electrification. The levelised energy costs of electricity are $0.83, $1.89, $0.86, $0.77 per kWh for solar PV, petrol generator, imported and locally-made wind turbine, respectively. The unit cost of electricity, though very high for an average peasant farmer and fisherman, can be a competitive option to grid connection which cost between $0.32 and $0.79/kWh through a distance of 5 to 10 km. The unit cost of a community project scenario is $0.1262 per kWh. However, it is noted that, the community project will be economically viable if the avoided cost of energy is at least $0.112/kWh. A hybrid system can be a better viable option, which should be researched into.
A thesis submitted to the College of Engineering in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, 2005