LPG powered Taxis in Ghana


AFIENYA, GHANA—On my second day in Ghana while in taxi en route to a biogas job site, I had a serendipitous discovery.

There are LPG gas stations in Ghana! I had never seen an LPG gas station before. (Here they call gas stations “filling stations.”)

LPG Filling

The taxi driver backed up his car and opened the trunk.

LPG tank

Then he hooked the gas hose up to a tank in the trunk.

Upon further observation, I discovered that some but not all taxis use LPG and only very few non-taxis use LPG. Still, I am excited to see a fuel other than gasoline and diesel used to power automobiles. I had only recently heard that some countries use LPG or CNG for fuel in cars. These energy sources power 13 million and 11.2 million cars worldwide, respectively. In some places such as India, even Compressed Biogas (CBG) is used in cars.

I have read online that LPG burns more cleanly than gasoline or diesel. The conversion between gasoline and LPG is low cost with the major changes being a different fuel regulator, a the LPG tank and fuel lines and, sometimes, a change in the timing.

In Ghana, regular gasoline costs a constant GHS 1.169 per litre while LPG costs GHS 0.875 per kg . The energy density of LPG is about 49.3 MJ per kg and the energy density of gasoline is about 34.2 MJ per litre (according to wikipedia). This means, in a strictly energy-cost comparison, LPG is a cheaper fuel (0.0178 GHS per MJ) than gasoline (0.0342 GHS per MJ), presumably why some taxi drivers have chosen to use the LPG instead of gasoline. The price of LPG and gasoline here is regulated by the government so all filling stations throughout Ghana have the same prices.

Taxis powered by LPG in Ghana is strong evidence that there is a potential market for using biogas in cars in Africa. The market has already been created. This discovery shows that there is another way to make biogas production a profitable enterprise. See here for biogas powered VW Beetle.

About Kyle David

Thinking about distribution in developing countries
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3 Responses to LPG powered Taxis in Ghana

  1. Last time I was in Ghana I had trouble filling the propane tank for my stove. I was told that there was a shortage made worse by the fact that so many taxis had converted to running their vehicles on it. I appreciated your pictures and take on it.

    • uenergy says:

      Thanks for adding this piece of information. Supply is a very important consideration when using a resource for new application. I have not yet heard of LPG shortages, so there must not be any currently.

  2. Nice article.The energy density details are correct though a litre of LPG is lighter than a litre of petrol. So if you compare a litre of petrol with a litre of LPG the difference is 10% less energy in the LPG. Which is not too said you wouldn’t feel it in driving.

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