The Volta River Authority was established on April 26, 1961 with the mandate to generate, transmit and distribute electricity under the Volta River Development Act, Act 46 of the Republic of Ghana.
However, following the promulgation of a major amendment to the VRA Act within the context of the Ghana Government Power Sector Reforms in 2005, the VRA's mandate has now been largely restricted to generation of electricity. This amendment has created an enabling environment to attract Independent Power Producers (IPPs) into the Ghana Energy market.
The amendment also hived-off the VRA's transmission function into a separate entity designated the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), while the distribution agency, the Northern Electricity Department (NED), established in April 1987, also evolved into the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), a wholly owned, standalone subsidiary of the VRA
The VRA has diversified its power generation portfolio to take advantage of available and sustainable sources of energy mainly hydro and natural gas, liquified petroleum products and renewables.
The Authority owns and solely operates a total installed electricity generation capacity of 2,512.5MW. The two main hydro dams, Akosombo and Kpong Generating Stations both located on the Volta River have 1,020MW and 160MW respectively; with a compliment of 2.5MW Solar PV Plant at Navrongo in the Upper East Region and a 6.5MW Solar PV Plant at Lawra in the Upper West Region.
The VRA also owns a number of thermal plants located in Aboadze near Takoradi, and the Tema enclave. The Authority's thermal facilities some of which are combined cycle generating systems, include the 330MW Takoradi Thermal (T1) Power Station, a 345MW Takoradi International Company Thermal (T2) Power Plant, which is a joint venture (JV) between VRA and TAQA from Abu Dhabi; a 110MW Tema Thermal 1 Power Plant (TT1PP) now designated Station 2, a 80MW Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant (TT2PP) as Station 3, a 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Station (KTPS) and a 250MW Ameri Power Plant.
Power Expansion Activities
As part of the Authority's expansion programme, VRA is exploring the possibility of repowering the 132MW T3 Plant at Takoradi and converting the existing 220MW Kpone Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) into a combined cycle power plant. Decommissioning processes have begun on the 80MW Mines Reserve Plants to make way for the replacement of the plant with a more efficient type using the combined cycle generation technology.
There is the conversion of the Tema TT1PP/TCTPP single-cycle plants into a combined cycle as a Joint Venture with CENIT Energy Limited (CEL), a subsidiary of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
To diversify the Authority's generation portfolio and assist to achieve the Government's Renewable Energy (RE) Policy objective, VRA formulated a Renewable Energy (RE) Policy to develop and operate RE plants in an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner in its generation range. Accordingly, the first phase of the Renewable Energy Development Programme (REDP) instituted from 2011 to 2015, targeted the development of 14.5MW of solar PV and 150MW of Wind Energy. The programme for the second phase was set for 2016 to 2020 with about 100MW of Solar PV and 200MW of Wind Energy. As at the end of 2020, 9.0MW of Solar PV was in commercial operation and13.0MW was under construction and expected to be completed in 2021. The VRA also aims at expanding its 2.5MW Solar PV Plant at Navrongo in the Upper East Region of Ghana to 7.5MW and proposed construction of a 20MW Solar PV plant at Bongo, all in the Upper East Region.
The Authority in collaboration with the Government of Ghana and KfW Development Bank cut the sod in February 2020 for the construction of a 17MWp Solar PV plants in Kaleo and Lawra in the Upper West Region. With significant upgrades made to the technical specifications of the plants, the initial 17MWp generation capacity was augmented to 19.5MWp, with Lawra producing 6.5Mwp and Kaleo, 13MWp of solar energy at no extra financial costs. The 6.5MW Lawra project was commissioned on October 10, 2020.
The Kaleo and Lawra solar projects will be expanded from the total of 19.5MW to 35MW under a similar financing arrangement with Government of Ghana, KfW Development Bank and the Authority. Works will commence in 2021.
Seeking to increase the Authority's renewable footprint, a Solar Rooftop Photovoltaic Installation with a capacity range of 79.22kWp to 100kWp was commissioned at the Head Office-Electro Volta House. The installation is estimated to reduce electricity consumption by some 9.5% while ensuring that some cost-saving is made on budgetary expenditure for electricity use by the Authority. Plans are underway to implement similar installations in the various VRA operational locations.
Despite the challenges with the timelines, the VRA is currently working to develop about 150MW of Wind Power at identified sites in the southern parts of the country based on wind resource potential. Feasibility Studies, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Grid Impact studies and Land acquisition have been concluded for the first 75 MW Wind Power project at Anloga, Srogbe and Anyanui in Volta Region for the project to kickoff in 2021.
In November 2019, the sod was cut for the US$993m Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam Project. Estimated to contribute 60MW of hydroelectric power, the proposed dam is expected to provide a 25,000-hectare irrigation scheme, which will boost annual rice production by up to 117,000 tonnes and maize by up to 49,000 tonnes. It is also estimated to provide some 50MW of solar power aimed at stabilizing power supply in the northern part of Ghana. The construction of the dam would also provide a permanent solution to the perennial flooding in the region caused by high volumes of rainfall and the associated spillage of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso during the raining season. Pre-commencement site activities have been completed and construction is expected to commence in 2021.
Links to Customers and Neighbouring Countries
The VRA reaches its customers in Ghana and neighbouring countries through the Ghana Grid Company's (GRIDCo) transmission system, which covers the entire country and links up with the national electricity grids of Cote d'Ivoire, Compagnie Ivoirienne d'Électricité (CIE), Togo, Communauté Electrique du Benin (CEB), and Burkina Faso (SONABEL). These interconnections now serve as part of the arrangement under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP).
The VRA's major bulk customers are the following distribution companies; Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Northern Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (NEDCo) and Enclave Power Company (EPC). Power sold to ECG and NEDCo caters mainly for domestic, industrial and commercial concerns in the southern and northern sectors of the country, whilst power sold to EPC caters for industrial and commercial concerns in the Tema Free Zone.
The Authority also makes bulk sales to a number of mining companies, which includes AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Goldfields Ghana Limited and Golden Star Resources Group.
Other customers are Aluworks, Akosombo Textile Limited, Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Adansi Gold Ghana Limited, Drillworx Limited, Perseus Mining Ghana Limited, New Century Mines, Prestea Sankofa Gold Mine Limited, Great Consolidated Diamond Limited, Ghana Free Zones Board, International Land Development Co. Limited (ILDC), Kpong Farms Limited, Owere Mines Limited and Prestea Gold Resources Limited Township.
The rest are TV3 Network Services (Media General Ghana Ltd), Volta Aluminium Company Limited, Adamus Resources Limited, Nzema Gold Operations, Savanna Diamond Limited, Newmont Golden Ridge Limited, Asanko Gold Ghana Limited, and BlackIvy Ghana Limited.
The VRA is a Foundation Customer in the development of the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP), which guarantees its competitiveness in power delivery in the sub-region.
The Authority is also participating in the development of a power pooling mechanism to provide the West Africa sub-region with increased accessibility, availability and affordability to electricity under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Authority continues to collaborate with the West Africa Power pool to develop and operationalize the Bolgatanga–Bobodil 330kV transmission line.
The Authority continues to collaborate with the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to develop the West African Sub region power pooling mechanism with increased accessibility, availability and affordability to electricity. The West Africa Regional Electricity Market was officially launched by West African Power Pool (WAPP) in 2018, with the first phase becoming operational in the year 2020. The market will facilitate and regularize cross-border electricity trade and thus introduce efficiency in both local and regional markets.
The Authority remains a key player in the affairs of the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo), a limited liability company that owns and operates through 78km West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP). The VRA through the Takoradi Power Company Limited (TAPCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of VRA, holds VRA's shares of 16.3% in WAPCo on behalf of the Government of Ghana.
From the Commercial Operations Date (CoD) of November 1, 2011, WAPCo's main mandate has been to transport natural gas from Nigeria to customers in Benin, Togo and Ghana in a safe, responsible and reliable manner, at prices competitive with other fuel alternatives. Since June 2019, the WAGP now has the capability of delivering gas from Western Ghana (Takoradi) in a reverse flow mode to the East (Tema) as a result of the completion of the Takoradi Tema Interconnection Project (TTIP).
Under the Emergency Power Programme (EPP) in Liberia after years of conflict, the VRA was appointed the principal consulting agency to implement the two-phase, construction and operation of the power system for Liberia. VRA, acknowledged by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its distinctive competencies, provided a 2.6MVA electric power to a section of Monrovia through the distribution grids in Congo Town and Kru Town. The electricity serves institutional customers such as hospitals, schools, police stations, community facilities and for street lighting along the main route of the Grid.
The VRA is a founding member of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), previously known as Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa (UPDEA).
APUA aims at promoting, integrating and developing the African power sector through active cooperation among its members on one hand and all international power sector organizations and donors on the other. APUA is a permanent member of the Executive Council of the African Energy Commission and a preferred partner of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Relations with Statutory Regulatory Bodies
In pursuance of the Authority's operations, the VRA has working relations with the following statutory bodies: The Ministry of Energy (MoE), which plays a supervisory role, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Energy Commission (EC) as commercial and technical regulators respectively.
Non Power Activities
In accordance with Executive Instrument (EI) 42, 1989, the VRA administers and exercises Local Authority functions in the Akosombo Township. It also manages and provides property, facility management, property development and security services to the Akosombo Township and the VRA community at Akuse.
The Authority continues to provide and manage first and second cycle schools in Aboadze, Akosombo and Akuse, whilst providing for the health needs of staff, their dependents and local communities within its operational areas in Akosombo, Aboadze, Akuse and Accra. The VRA also carries out dredging programme at the estuary of the Volta River at Ada to reduce the incidence of Bilharzia and also restore the ecosystem in the area. To ensure sustainable management of the Akosombo and Kpong dams, the Authority maintains an aquatic weed harvesting program, which aims at eliminating or reducing the prevalence of Bilharzia whilst improving the water quality and transforming the livelihoods of the riparian communities in the Lower Volta area and the restoration of the ecosystem.
In response to the global clarion call for a cohesive approach to confronting the challenges of climate change, the VRA in its Renewable Energy Policy has developed a Carbon Footprint Management Programme which details planned actions towards pollution prevention, waste reduction and sustainable development. Adopted in 2016, the programme has guided the development and introduction of climate-smart interventions in the operations of the Authority to impacted areas along the Volta Basin.
Following its approval, interventions such as the Volta Gorge Reforestation Programme, Climate Smart Stove Initiative and Corporate initiatives such as the Corporate Waste Segregation Programme and the use of less carbon-intensive fuels in generation activities have been implemented to reduce Greenhouse Gas emission levels of the Authority.
The Station 2 at Tema, since May 2013, has been reconfigured to also run on natural gas in addition to LCO (Light Crude Oil) to emit approximately 70% less carbon dioxide compared to other fossil fuels. Again, two major tree-planting programmes, the Volta Gorge Reforestation Programme and the Buffer Zone Reforestation Programme, serving as carbon sinks, cover about 5,149.24 Ha of land in and around the Volta Gorge Area.
Internally the Authority has initiated a "Corporate Solid Waste Segregation Programme" which aims at separating solid wastes into its components at source to facilitate easy recycling. So far 2.51 tons of wastepaper has been transferred for recycling. There has also been a shift from the traditional reliance on firewood as domestic fuel with the introduction of fuel-efficient and energy saving improved cook stoves in 2016, termed as "Climate Smart Stoves" (CSS) in the riparian communities.
Furthermore, a collaborative action with the Fisheries Department in the Asuogyaman District has resulted in the construction of 300 stoves. About 1,000 stoves are expected constructed by 2024 in other district.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Authority is also committed to ensuring that its operations and activities remain relevant, competitive and agile in the Power sector. Key to the implementation of this strategy is the championing of viable solutions that ensure the strengthening of existing partnerships between the Authority and impacted communities within our areas of operation. In 1995, a combined effort with the Ghana Government realised the establishment of a special fund known as the VRA Resettlement Trust Fund, aimed at providing socio-economic interventions and economic empowerment solutions to 52-resettlement townships as approved by the Managing Trustees. VRA continues to contribute annually, an equivalent of five hundred thousand United States Dollars (US$500,000) to the fund towards poverty alleviation initiatives for the people living in the 52-resettlement townships.
In addition to this fund, VRA has devoted extra resources to its CSR programme intended at improving standards of living through the provision of employability and entrepreneurial skills set to persons living within the impacted communities. Thus, the Community Relations Unit was established in 2003 to endear a stable relationship with communities affected by its operations and provide solutions to problems that were not catered for under the Resettlement Trust Fund.
Community Development Programme (CDP)
In 2012, VRA launched a CSR programme called the Community Development Programme (CDP) in communities impacted by its operations. The CDP represents a common ground for cooperation and partnership between VRA and the communities on the identification and provision of solutions to critical areas that stimulate economic and human capital development. The programme is also aimed at the development and implementation of social and economic activities in all communities and the transformation of these communities into 'opportunity communities'.
The Authority has provided interventions in the areas of:
- Education: Scholarships and internship opportunities have been provided to brilliant but needy students of impacted communities. Beneficiaries comprise two hundred and thirty four (234) senior high school level and forty-five (45) tertiary level students. VRA again provided the Kpone Community Senior High School with science laboratory equipment valued at twenty-five thousand cedis (GH¢25, 000).
- Sanitation: VRA has provided over 90 biofil sanitation facilities in Central Tongu, South Tongu, Shama and Manya Krobo Districts. These facilities are part of preventive measures deployed towards disease eradication in communities along the Lower Volta Basin. Construction has also begun towards the provision of about 40 biofil sanitation facilities for the Kade Government Hospital in the Kade District and some communities within the Authority's operational areas. The Authority in collaboration with the Project Maji Foundation has provided solar-powered mechanized borehole water facilities in five communities. Marginal reductions have been recorded in the bilharzia prevalence rates in endemic communities along the Volta Basin due to the provision of the potable water and sanitation facilities.
- Health: The Authority, through its Schistosomiasis Control Programme, undertakes a Mass Drug Administration Programme frequently in communities along the Basin. Studies by the Ghana Health Service in 2018, showed a reduction in the prevalence levels of Urinary schistosomiasis over the previous year in forty-two (42) communities within six districts namely - South, North and Central Tongu, South Dayi, Ada East and Shai Osudoku districts.
- Disease Eradication: The Authority maintains collaborative efforts with Asuogyaman District Health Management Team in the eradication of malaria, bilharzia and other waterborne diseases. These activities are guided by a Memorandum of Understanding that details plans for the eradication of Malaria with support from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication.
The VRA has earned an excellent reputation through its diverse CSR initiatives and activities, which have at its core the intense motivation to help the society while creating and enhancing business value, and increasing power generation through diversity to support the development of the Ghanaian economy.