GEN GHANA to join the fight against the construction of a 700MW coal plant in Ghana.

The Volta River Authority has announced that Ekumfi Aboano, a fishing community in the Central Region about 85 kilometers from Accra will be the site of Ghana’s first and West Africa’s first coal-fired power plants- a 700 megawatt (MW) coal plant which will later be scaled up to a huge 2,000 megawatt (MW) coal complex. The government has  secured a US $1.5 billion loan from China and a development agreement with Shenzhen Energy, a giant company that’s largely owned by the Chinese Government. If all goes as planned, two coal plants will rise on the Ghanaian Coast in the next 3 years, to be followed by several more.

A giant new port, with a 50,000-tonne berth, will be built to handle all the coal that we’ll have to import from South Africa and Colombia.

Coal is kolo.  It’s dirty, it poisons our children, and it contributes to global climate change more than any other fossil fuel. We have no coal here in Ghana, unlike the abundant gas, sunshine, and wind resources that we are naturally blessed with.  And we as a nation have committed ourselves to a low-carbon development strategy that will preserve our own people from the impacts of climate change and fulfill our obligations to the rest of the world.  Maybe coal power seemed like a good idea in the thick of Dumsor.  But now we can consider our options with a clearer head.  To that end, we should separate the myths from the facts.

Myth #1: Coal power will be cheap and reliable.

Yes, it’s true that coal is cheap on the international market right now – that’s because most other countries are turning away from coal in favor of cleaner energy sources.  But Ghana has no domestic coal.  We’ll have to bring it all in from South Africa and Colombia, which means that when the market price of coal swings up again – and it will – we’ll be dependent on other countries and stuck paying for expensive, dirty, imported fuel.

Myth #2: Coal power can be clean.

No matter what technology is used, coal-fired power plants always release toxic pollution – mercury that gets into our fish and poisons unborn children, nitrous oxide that causes childhood asthma, and sulfur dioxide that lowers agricultural yields, to name just a few.  But the Ghana coal deal is particularly bad because Shenzhen Energy is planning to use antiquated, inefficient technology from the 1960s – technology so old the Chinese don’t even use it anymore.
Myth #3: Coal power will bring jobs.

Local leaders have said the plants will bring jobs and development to Ekumfi Aboano.  But who’s to say that Shenzhen Energy will hire locals to build or operate the plant?  How many times do we have to watch as foreign companies bring their own workers and fail to transfer any skills to our youths?  Plus, they fail to mention that the local fisheries will likely be devastated, undoubtedly destroying more jobs than will be created.

So, what’s the solution?

Fortunately, Ghana doesn’t have to depend on dirty, destructive, imported coal to solve its energy problems.  Part of the solution is already underway: we’ve got two major natural gas fields that will come online in the next few years, and the real path to the future can be found in the renewable energy resources that bless our country.  Instead of taking on over a billion dollars of debt to China and becoming energy reliant on South Africa, let’s install solar in every home and village and maximize our resources by fixing our aging grid to make it more efficient.

The rest of the world has already discovered that coal is kolo and is working to get over its coal addiction.  Let’s learn that lesson before we get addicted, and say NO to coal.

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