POWER SHIFT – GHANA, tagged as the nation’s largest environmental youth gathering was held on May 14th at KNUST. The event was organized by the Ghana Youth Climate Coalition (GYCC), Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) and Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO). Power Shift – Ghana 2016, attracted over 400 students, about 100 environmental activists, and solar energy practitioners to engineer Ghana’s transition towards clean energy.
At the event, Mr. Kobina Nyanteh of Translight Energy (a solar firm) mentioned that Ghana needs to strengthen its policy to promote renewable energy investment. In his speech, he made known that students with interest in renewable energy should focus their research on some of the current hurdles faced by the solar sector – such as a pre/post-paid meter system. Mr. Maxmillian Kwarteng of Gramax energy also exposed participants to some of the advances in the solar industry in Ghana. According to him, solar panels are currently being manufactured in Ghana and that is expected to reduce the cost of solar installations in houses and offices.
Gideon Commey, founder of GYEM, led a climate reality presentation and explained the science, impact, and known solutions to climate change. The audience and students had a lot of misconception on solar energy, climate change and fossil fuel energy production; Joshua Amponsem (Executive Director, GAYO) led the last session of the conference and answered the many questions the students had on fossil fuel and renewable energy.
At the end of the event, GYCC collected over 500 signatures to support the petition of the environmental movement to the VRA and EPA of Ghana to reject the proposed supercritical coal plant.
Fossil fuel still remains the world’s largest contributor to the planet’s changing climate and thus, efforts to reduce carbon emissions means that energy production from fossil fuel (most importantly, coal) must be phased out and replaced with clean energy – renewables. However, the Government of Ghana (GoG) has advanced plans to construct a 2x350MW supercritical coal fired power plant in Ekumfi Aboano in the Central Region of Ghana. The project, initially scheduled to commence in August 2016 and now postponed to April 2017, will see the import of 2 million tons per year of coal from South Africa. It is a joint venture between the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Group of China and estimated to cost $US1.5bn.
Environmental activists from GAYO, GYEM and GYCC has persistently campaigned against the GoG proposed supercritical coal fired power plant. The most recent events include the ‘Walk for Solar Campaign’ held in Accra right after COP 21 staged in December 2015 and the ‘Street Press Conference on Coal’ held on Earth Day 2016.