The Bui Power Authority is expanding investment into solar photo voltaic (PV) resources. The initiative will support the Government of Ghana’s effort to increase renewable energy by 10% by 2030. The hybridisation of hydro dam operations with solar energy will also harness a more resilient energy supply.

Located on the Black Volta River, the existing Bui Generating Station produces 404 MW but operating supply is affected by the dry season. Spanning six sites in Northern Ghana, Bui Power Authority aims to generate and supply an additional 200MW of solar power into Ghana’s main energy grid. The sites identified for investigation include Bawku, Yendi, Tumu, Sawla, Buipe and Zebilla.

SMEC (engineering partner) and Sienna Services (main contractor) recently commenced feasibility studies, working with the client and stakeholders to develop a hydro-solar hybrid power supply framework. SMEC’s nominated team brings extensive experience in complex Power System Studies.

It is envisaged that the new solar plants will be linked into existing substations (owned Ghana’s national grid managers GRIDCo) for power evacuation. Impact assessment studies will determine the capacity of each substation and any upgrade works that may be required. For the development of solar PV projects bigger than 20MW on High Voltage transmission lines, the regulatory authority in Ghana also requires the addition of a backup (storage) system.

To determine the suitability of each site, a comprehensive assessment of existing transmission lines, substations and associated infrastructure will be undertaken. SMEC will also assess solar generation capacity, taking into consideration the acreage, amount of sunlight hours and efficiency of solar PV equipment.

It is anticipated that solar plants ranging between 10MWp-100MWp can be integrated into the National Interconnected Transmission System (NITS). Rigorous grid impact modelling and scenario modelling will be undertaken along with simulation of existing solar infrastructure at Bui to analyse the impact of the increased power injection.

Aerial view of the Bui Generating Station commissioned 2013

SMEC has operated in Ghana since 1976, and established a permanent office in Accra in 1998. SMEC’s first project in Ghana was a feasibility study and detailed design services for the Bui Hydroelectric Power Project.

Summary of scope:

  • Grid Assessment of six PV development sites, including static and dynamic studies.
  • Tariff studies for the solar PV portfolios.
  • Transmission line studies and sizing for 200MW combined generation from floating and land-based PV projects within the Bui Enclave.
  • Assess suitability of GRIDCo substations to harness generation from the six PV sites proposed within the Northern Region.
  • Investigate hybridisation of PV with the existing Hydro.
  • Investigate Energy Storage System sizing to help regulate supply