Oilwatch Ghana, Civil Society Groups demand: STOP THE COAL DREAM
STOP THE COAL DREAM
If all goes well as planned by the proponents , Ghana will witness the first coal fired electricity plant in the next three years , to be sited at Ekumfi Aboano, a fishing community in the Western Region, 85 kilometers from Accra. The government has secured a $1.5billion dollar development loan agreement with China through Shenzhen Energy, a corporation largely owned by the Chinese government to develop the project.
The coal plant is designed to trigger several other infrastructure projects, including a new port facility. The coal, the raw materials, will be imported from Colombia and South Africa.
We are united in our stance that, energy underpins any form of human development and progress in general and particularly for Ghana, raising no doubt, about the need for Ghana to take bold steps in addressing the vicious cycle of its energy poverty . We equally agree that, lower cost of energy is a game changer in poverty reduction and growth.
However, we believe that our energy development efforts and choices must be prudent and consistent with high standard development options and agreements. Having studied the available facts surrounding the coal-based energy generation, including the ESIA scoping report, put forward by the proponents of the coal plant raises questions than answers .
Therefore our conviction that Ghana must refrain from the coal agenda is grounded in the following arguments.
- Cheaper cost of Electricity
Protagonists of the coal plant including VRA touts the coal project as cheaper source of electricity power supply. Though this claim may be said to be right, it presents only one aspect of the argument. Undoubtedly the cost for the commodity coal is or can be relatively low but mostly because governments the world over are moving away from coal. The other untold aspect lays in the reality that, construction, maintenance and decades of importing a fuel that we do not have domestically will be extremely costly and will ultimately mean higher energy tariffs. This is even when the business as usual scenario of externalizing environmental and social including public health cost factors prevails - The loan behind this coal plant, stands at a whopping $1.5billion , Based on our initial assessment ,we have reasonable difficulties to believe that the coal venture holds promise for cheap energy.
- Perpetuating Energy Dependency
Allied to the above position, the coal project brings into memory how similar arguments underpinning previous energy infrastructure turn out to be a nightmare .With reference to the West Africa Gas Pipeline. In the mid 2000 Ghana contracted millions of investment loans towards the construction of the WAGP which was billed to solve our energy challenges through exporting gas from Nigeria’s oil and gas fields. Inspire of this today , Ghana continues the bitter experience of erratic power supply and the reason as we have come to know it is not farfetched .Supply failure from the WAGP has been cited on many occasions .This drives home a lesson about the price to pay by relying on external sources for our energy needs . The Coal dream is on - on course to consolidate Ghana’s dependency under which arrangement we cannot discount our vulnerability and potential risk to supply failures We have no coal here in Ghana, unlike the abundant gas, sunshine, and wind resources that we are naturally blessed with.
- Exporting outdated and Rejected Technology to Ghana
The proposed project would build “supercritical” coal-fired power plants – a type of coal plant commercialized in the 1960s, at a time when many countries including developing countries like China, a staunch apostle of this project are moving away from coal as fast as possible because of pollution, climate change impacts informing the global efforts targeted at Energy transformation and economic restructuring. In March this year, China halted the construction of coal plants in 15 regions, and the Chinese have passed a law requiring all new coal plants to meet the efficiency of an ultra-supercritical plant or better.
The “supercritical” plant being proposed for Ghana falls out of the new standards set in china , arguably too dirty to be legally built in China. The Chinese and their Ghanaian allies claim for using this outdated technology is that , the plants are too small (two 350 MW plants) is untenable reason being that even if we have to go the goal way building one, 700 MW plant that can use ultra-supercritical or IGCC tec and technology? Should be the roadmap instead of the current proposal which will only succeed in producing dirty energy.
- Pollution and Climate Factor
Further, the proposed technology is too old and inefficient to impact meaningfully on carbon capture and storage.
Burning coal emits roughly twice the pollution of burning gas, making it the largest contributor to climate change. Experts believe that solving the threat of global warming, will require countries to capture store the carbon dioxide released by coal plants. Noting that the average life span of a coal plant is over 50 years convinces the International Energy Agency to call for phase out inefficient coal-fired plants as a means to meet the global climate targets
- Leadership,Inspiration and Contradiction
It cannot be for nothing that Ghana’s former president ( president JA Kuffour ), was a former UN climate change Envoy . Through the leadership of president Kuffour ,Ghana espoused the need for extended action on climate change, notably during the 2015 international climate talks in Paris last year. Weighed against this leadership role , for Ghana to be threading the coal path particularly in the form it has been fashioned stands at odds with our leadership role within the international Climate change debate arena . Not reversing our steps will mean locking ourselves into over a half century of emitting large green house gas substances
Similarly , in a Presidential statement last year, the China’s President Xi promised to “strengthen green and low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing in to projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally.” This project would be indirect violation of the Chinese President’s statement .
On the strength of the above, we herewith make the following demands
1. We must refrain from the coal agenda, uphold the path for a transformative energy system , consistent with global development trends while charting the path towards real people centered energy future affirmed in the value of renewable.
2.Ghana must takes steps not to violate the country’s obligation under the Sustainable Development Goals which enjoins countries to take step that ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The recent Paris climate change agreement states that ‘all Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.’
Instead of burdening the rest of the world with high-carbon, polluting infrastructure, China, the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy, should work with countries like Ghana to create a clean energy future. Halt the coal initiative and redirect investment into renewable.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook