The Volta River Authority (VRA) had said that aquatic weeds pose a big threat to its 160 megawatts Kpong Hydro Electric Power Plant at Akuse aside the negative impact on economic activities of host communities.
The weeds which come in various types are sometimes able to float into turbines despite the use of booms and other mechanisms in place to control this.
This then forces the authority to shut down the plant and take care of the weeds as this directly affects generation of power and other cost to VRA.
The company losses a significant amount of money for not generating power due to shutdowns.
Resent assessment done reveals VRA lost ¢4 million for shutdowns between 1999 and 2021.
Director of Environment and Sustainable Development at VRA, Benjamin Sackey disclosed this to Joy Business when the Ghana Maritime Authority handed over three trash skimmer vessels to the power producer at Kpong in the Eastern region to tackle aquatic weeds.
“The weeds on the water can break and head towards Kpong Headpond; that’s the dam at Akuse and we may have to shut down the turbines to clear them,”
“As a company, we have a programme in place to manage from the shoreline where these communities are and also on the main water body. If you have seen the aerial view of this, there is a huge chunk of weeds on the water body and we’re grateful to GMA for this support,” he said.
The handing over of the skimmers follows a memorandum of understanding signed between the two state agencies.
For VRA, the skimmers are important in managing the weeds.
On one hand, it comes the as perfect replacement for earlier equipment from the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) in 2012 where the power producer received two barges and two weed harvesters which are to be decommissioned soon having reached their useful lives.
On the other hand, the new equipment will help avert the likelihood of losing lives in an attempt to manage the weeds using manpower.
According to Mr. Sackey, VRA has in the last six years engaged a company which routinely removes the weeds but this would reduce the hands needed with the arrival of the machines.
Although the power producer has options including chemical, biological, mechanical and manual means to manage the weeds, it has ruled out chemical control due to its possible negative impact on communities along the water body.
A simulation exercise at Kpong on how the skimmers operate revealed that excavators from VRA are onsite to deal with tough fast-growing deep-rooted weeds to complement the role of the trash skimmer vessels.
The weeds also prevent free flow of water to the dam which is needed to produce the power.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director, Surveys and Inspection and Head of Tema branch of Ghana Maritime Authority, Capt. William Thompson said the skimmers will play an important role in the management of the weeds to protect the dam.
“We acquired three skimmers.We put one down south of the dam so the water flows. We clear up here, it flows from here to the dam. It needs to flow freely. So that’s why one is there to clear that. Over the time when this is done, I believe VRA will decide and then move it to other places where there are concerns”
“I hear the estimates of shutdowns over the period of time has been quite huge. The cost of having to stop the dam operating because of weeds and other issues. The equipment coming in is honestly a huge saving on the operations of VRA and hope the cooperation between VRA and GMA will continue,” he added.
VRA will operate and maintain the skimmers.
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