GRIDCO, the backbone to power delivery in Ghana, has taken a first step toward liberalisation of the electricity market with the launch of a Dispatch Data Exchange phase of the market.
What this means is that demand for and supply of electricity to bulk consumers, including the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) , will be better synchronised to ensure the efficient dispatch of electricity on a daily basis.
At a short and impressive ceremony at the System Control Centre, stakeholders in attendance were taken through the new system which requires that they present their electricity needs to GRIDCO a day in advance. Participants included representatives from the power utilities, public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), Energy Commission as well as the bulk supply customers such as the mines and VALCO.
Welcoming participants to the launch this first, the Director for Systems Operations at GRIDCO, Mr. Eric Asare, said for years GRIDCO has been dispatching power via the grid to customers with little or no involvement from them.
Rather, GRIDCO has relied on historical data and other assumptions to gauge the needs of customers. He is pleased that customers are now involved in the process, saying: "This is the surest way of evolving toward a full electricity market, where buyers and sellers meet to buy power at the best price possible."
Commenting on the significance of the occasion, GRIDCO CEO, Charles Darku said: "Experience from other sectors of the economy teaches us that much can be gained from the sharing of information between the system operator and customers, because everyone has the best information on which to make their own decisions in their best interests."
He gave the example of the aviation industry today, “where passengers can book their own flights, their own seat numbers and even their meals.
This has reduced the cost of operations and made their customers more satisfied with their services. We can do the same in the electricity industry", he indicated.
The process of developing the wholesale electricity market in Ghana has required significant capacity building on the part of the new Market Operations Unit in GRIDCO, VRA and the regulatory agencies. Several personnel have undertaken study tours abroad to familiarise themselves with the experiences of other markets in Europe and America.
Although all markets have certain common features, the CEO stressed however that there is no “one-size- fits-all model in this business”, adding that stakeholders need to adopt a system that suits circumstances of the environment and the peculiarities of each network.
In order to be successful, the wholesale electricity market requires adequate generation capacity, multiple participants without any one dominant player on both the generation and demand side, as well as appropriate pricing to make the market efficient.
It is one more tool in the continuing drive by GRIDCO to address the current challenges in supply quality and reliability.
Through it, electricity generators and wholesale consumers are about to enter into a new level of interaction on what will progressively be a more commercially oriented platform. The new system will ensure close monitoring by all of daily energy balance to identify periods of surpluses and shortfalls on an hourly basis.