The Minister of Mines & Energy has laid out the progress the country has made in overcoming constraints in the energy sector.

Minister Gesler E. Murray said Liberia’s current energy infrastructures are in deficit, and as a result, have not been able to meet the load demand of the consuming public both in terms of affordability and reliability of energy supply.

Mr. Murray asserted that the infrastructure deficit lies mainly in the area of distribution, both in terms of on-grid and off-grid systems, but added that significant gains are being made in the areas of generation and transmission.

“For instance, in the area of generation, we have the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant which has been rehabilitated from a pre-war capacity of 65MW to 88MW.” Minister Murray disclosed; noting: “We also have the HFO Thermal generation of 38MW.”

According to the Minister, the country currently has an installed capacity of 126MW from the Hydro and HFO Thermal generation.

Minister Murray who made the disclosure on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, during an Energy Sector virtual discussion with the World Bank Group from Washington D.C., said there will be a significant boost in power transmission with the arrival of the CLSG Transmission Line in December this year.

“The CSLG will herald a milestone in post-conflict Liberia energy delivery services as it is expected to fill the dry season generation gap during which time the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant operates at a very low efficiency due to low water level,” the Minister expressed.

Minister Murray said while these achievements may seem very small in the broader context, they represent great progress when viewed from an historical perspective.

He stressed: “In 2003, our energy infrastructures were in complete ruins, relating to all aspects of power systems: generation, transmission and distribution. We began to rebuild the system using 10MW high speed diesel generators, which was quite expensive. Now, we have HFO generation which is less expensive, and hydro generation.

“In 2004, there was zero demand, now in 2020, we have a peak of demand of 40MW, and in 2021, the load is expected to peak at 50 plus MW, and by 2022, we expect to domestically consume all of the generation from Mount Coffee.”

Prospects of the energy sector:

Discussing prospects in the energy sector, he told the World Bank Virtual conference that that about 68,000 households have been connected to the energy grid, with a target of 150,000 by 2022.

Minister Murray stated: “Now we are pushing ahead for greater efficiency and sufficiency in energy delivery services. We are seeking for a wide coverage of electricity access across the country so that by 2030, we can have an access rate of 35%.”

According to him, the current access rate of 10 percent for Monrovia and its environs, and only 5 percent nationwide is very low, emphasizing “this is very unacceptable, considering that energy is the lifeblood for any economy.”

“We have wholeheartedly embraced the WAPP concept and the agreed ECOWAS Master Plan of which the CLSG and Mount Coffee are a part of. We are working along with WAPP and the World Bank to complete the Bankable Feasibility Study for a 44 MW Mount Coffee extension, a solar plant with the capacity of 90 MW, and the construction of a second Hydropower Plant within the St. Paul River Basin. We are also working along with WAPP to conduct a feasibility study for a 225KVA line extension from San Pedro to Buchanan and we are also considering a joint Tiboto Hydropower project with neighboring Cote D’ Ivoire within the Cavala River Basin.”

“We consider electricity to be a poverty alleviation and wealth creation facility. So it is our desire that everyone should have it as much as possible. It is incumbent on this government to expand the access rate.”

On the regional level, he said Liberia envisages becoming a renewable energy hub with the capacity to export excess generation, albeit, maximizing domestic consumption propelled by mining, industry, and manufacturing.

“We want to move away from hydrocarbon HFO power generation into the green energy spectrum. The method of carbon capture and storage associated with coal thermal plants can be challenging, and could cause environmental problems, such as air pollution and soil contamination. That is why we have abandoned all conversations for the prospect of building a coal power plant as was contemplated by the previous administration,” Minister Murray indicated.

Based on the significance attached to this cause, Minister Murray noted President George Manneh Weah has mainstreamed electricity into his flagship development framework, known as the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

The Minister concluded by acknowledging the continuous support from the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, USAID and other development partners for the revitalization of Liberia’s Energy Sector.

 

Source: Front Page Africa

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