Monitoring and evaluating the Ghana Power Compact
In urban Ghana, 90%+ of households are connected to the national grid. In this context, the primary issue not lack of access to electricity but rather the reliability and quality of electricity provided to customers. Frequent and prolonged power outages, voltage spikes, and low voltage levels reduce the benefits of electricity for households and business, ultimately constraining economic well-being. The five-year, U.S. government funded, Ghana Power Compact aimed to increase electricity access and reliability through various avenues, including targeted investments in low-voltage line bifurcation (i.e. adding new transformers into the low-voltage grid network and splitting out existing low-voltage lines).
nLine is able to measure changes in electricity quality and reliability with a higher degree of granularity and precision than traditional data sources, namely surveys. With nLine sensor data, the UC Berkeley led-research team aimed to answer two key evaluation questions:
The Ghana Power Compact presented an opportunity to demonstrate how high-resolution, real-time, remote sensor data can inform rigorous evaluation of major grid infrastructure programs at-scale. By extensively sampling reliability at the distribution level, nLine provided utility-independent measurements on the performance of the power grid over time and across specified geographic areas.
From 2018-2023, nLine sensors have been deployed at 1,300+ households and small businesses across 21 districts, with a focus on Achimota, Dansoman, and Kaneshie, in Greater Accra, Ghana’s capital city. The Power Compact’s line-bifurcation activity injected new electricity transformers into the low voltage network at strategic points in order to reduce the distance between transformers that could lead to reduced quality of service. Consequently, a subset of sensors were strategically placed in line-bifurcation treatment and control areas to monitor detailed trends in power outages and voltage quality at the transformer level.
nLine sensors measure outage duration, outage frequency, and voltage quality. nLine’s GridWatch technology is able to detect when a large number of sensors in a particular area experience an outage at the same time, and can thereby distinguish between low, medium and high-voltage outages.
Households and small business consent to having a sensor plugged in at their location and receive a monthly compensation for ensuring the sensor remains installed.
Geographic diversity in sampling also allows nLine to map nuanced electricity reliability variations within localized areas while illuminating differences between neighborhoods.
nLine sensor data was able to support the research evaluation team in analyzing whether the Power Compact’s grid infrastructure improvements led to a reduction in outages and improvement in voltage quality in districts with new transformer installations.
For research & development and early insights on this project, take a look at the linked content below. Detailed results are forthcoming in early 2024. Stay tuned!