Ghana will require approximately 1.110 million acres of land to meet the country’s Renewable Energy Targets (RET) for 2030, with woodlot plantations alone requiring approximately 1 million acres.
The remaining 110,000 acres will mainly cover the space required for utility-scale installations, mini-grids, and biofuels, the Ministry of Energy said in its Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP).
“Notwithstanding the positive benefits, some of the renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, and plantation-based schemes have higher land requirements”.Ministry of Energy
The Energy Ministry stressed that renewable energy technologies such as utility-scale solar and wind and plantation-based schemes require appreciable landmass for development with its attendant effect on other land uses.
For instance, the land requirement for solar PV installations is about 2.5 acres (1 hectare) per Megawatt (MW). Land required for wind farms is about 35 hectares per MW which could still be used for perennial cropping. In the case of solar, however, there is less opportunity to share the land with other economic uses such as agriculture, although a significant breakthrough has been achieved in China.
However, development of the remaining small hydropower resources will lead to minimal land displacement and resettlement.
Nonetheless, the Energy Ministry asserted that opportunities however exist to develop irrigation schemes from some of the hydropower developments.
Concerning biomass fuels, economic and multipurpose energy crops and tree species for electricity generation and liquid biofuels would be promoted for optimal land use. Further gains that are envisaged upon the successful implementation of the plan are reduction of adverse climate change effects; Increased forest cover as a result of afforestation and reforestation, and an increase in eco-tourism.
“More than 60% of Ghana’s agricultural lands are still uncultivated. Portion of the uncultivated lands should be earmarked to produce biofuel feedstock that address the food-energy nexus. Multi-purpose crops such as oil palm, coconut, cassava, sugar cane, etc. could be promoted on a large scale to support food and biofuel industry”.Ministry of Energy
Through spatial planning, the ministry noted that it will minimize the impacts of utility-scale renewable energy systems by siting them at locations where there is less competition for land use, for example; degraded lands, abandoned mining sites, transportation, and transmission corridors, etc.
The REMP also aims at encouraging and promoting the use of roof space in commercial, industrial, public, and private facilities for solar installations. Due to the site-specific nature of renewable energy resources, the Ministry of Energy noted that the Implementing Authority for the REMP will secure potential areas where the resource abounds for development.
This is to avoid losing such sites particularly areas along with the coastal belts to other competing needs. The ministry is expected to deploy several models such as land acquisition through executive instruments or contribution of land as equity by owners in the development of renewable energy projects.
The REMP was prepared by a task force made up of experts from the Ministry of Energy, Energy Commission, National Development Planning Commission, and the academia. The Plan is to be implemented over a 12-year time-space, from 2019 to 2030.
The REMP is a US$ 5.6 billion investment master plan, with more than 80% coming from the private sector. On annual basis, the REMP translates into an estimated US$ 460 million investments. The successful implementation of the plan would lead to an installed electricity capacity of 1363.63 MW, the creation of 220,000 jobs, and carbon savings of about 11 million tons of CO2 by 2030.