Electricity consumption in Ghana for the year 2021 totalled around 73 watts per person, far below the global average of 412 watts. Almost two-thirds of Ghana's electricity consumption comes from fossil fuels, mainly from gas, registering at around 47 watts per person. The low-carbon energy sector contributes close to a third, with hydropower being the primary source at 25 watts per person. Other low-carbon energy sources such as solar and biofuels constitute a minuscule proportion of the energy mix. The low levels of electricity generation could hinder Ghana's growth and development by limiting access to modern amenities, digital technologies, and hampering industrialization. Despite its relatively low consumption levels, Ghana is a net exporter of electricity, supplying power to neighbouring countries.
Looking at international data, many countries have managed to develop robust low-carbon electricity sectors. Denmark and Sweden, for example, generate significant electricity from wind, 369 watts and 363 watts per person respectively. Australia, with a similar climate to Ghana, generates about 147 watts per person from solar energy. Ghana could learn from these countries by investing more in wind and solar power infrastructure and technologies. However, considering Ghana's significant reliance on hydropower, exploration into nuclear energy could also be beneficial. Countries like Sweden, France, Finland, and Belgium have managed to generate electricity using nuclear energy far above the global average per capita consumption.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Ghana has been dominated by hydropower. The 80s saw a period of fluctuation with a significant decrease in 1983 and 1984 followed by modest increases in subsequent years. In the late 90s, however, hydropower saw a major decline, dipping by 3 TWh in 1998, only to rebound with an increase of 1.3 TWh the following year. The turn of the century brought another spike in production, with increases in 1999 and 2000. However, the mid-2000s saw a relative decrease that continued until around 2007 before making a recovery in 2008 and 2009. Then in 2015, there was a notable decrease by 2.5 TWh, marking the most significant drop in electricity generation since 1998. Most recently, in 2019, there was a slight increase of 1.2 TWh. This historical trend highlights the volatile nature of relying on hydropower and emphasizes the need to diversify Ghana's low-carbon energy portfolio.