Come join me and my fellow environmental activists on June 6th, as we submit a petition with over 1,000 signatures to the Environmental Protection Agency – urging them to consider the environment and the health of the people of Ghana before endorsing the proposed 2*350MW supercritical coal plant.
The Government of Ghana is expected to solve the country’s energy crisis through the construction of a 2x350MW supercritical coal fired power plant in Ekumfi Aboano in the Central Region of Ghana.
The project, which was initially scheduled to commence in August 2016 has been postponed to April 2017. The first phase of the project will see the import of 2 million tons per year of coal from South Africa and Colombia, and the construction of an administration block, offices, networks, turbines and a coal handling bay. According to Volta River Authority, the second phase of the project will generate 1,300MW of power and finally about 2,00MW of power to be generated during the final stages of the project.
The concept of supercritical coal power plants is basically to eliminate pollution from power plants and ensure air quality. However, there are severe environmental concerns on behalf of citizens since the concept of ‘supercritical coal power’ or ‘clean coal technology’ is very expensive and difficult to be practiced. With a current investment of $1.5bn, many energy access practitioners are having doubts on the utilization of funds to reduce externalities and ensure proper environmental and social performance.
The VRA has been very transparent in incorporating the concerns of the general public into the project development. VRA invited a number of advocacy groups to explain the concept of supercritical coal power plant and also to enhance public acceptance of the project. At the meeting, VRA confirmed that they cannot ensure zero pollution, however, they will do their best to reduce pollution to the very minimal. Despite the promise, the ‘#NoCoal2Ghana’ campaign being led by the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, is continuously growing over the social media and threatening the prevalence of the commencement of the project.
According to VRA, it has become necessary to invest in coal power primary to meet the country‘s increasing demands (7% Growth – GRIDCo) resulting in energy demand of 47,342 GWh by 2030 and a peak load of 7000MW. It also seeks to improve supply reliability with a base load plant, matured and proven in technology to provide electricity with unrestricted fuel.
The supercritical coal power plant is a joint venture between the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Group of China and estimated to cost $US1.5bn – funded by the China African Development Fund.
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.
I am speaking at #PowerShiftGh 2016 – Engineering a Transition to Clean Energy.
See the outline for Power Shift Conference 2016 – Ghana’s largest environmental youth gathering
On April 22nd, a group of environmental activists gathered in Accra – capital city of Ghana, to campaign against the introduction of coal power plants in Ghana. Prior to the Earth Day event, the organizers of the Street Press Conference on Coal, released a press statement which highlighted their major concerns on the adverse effects of coal on human inhabited locations.
On Earth Day, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement – led by Gideon Commey, and Green Africa Youth Organization – led by Tunza ambassador, Joshua Amponsem held a street press conference to educate the public on coal fired power plants, its associated health implications, and ecological impacts.
For the first time, an environmental street campaign in Ghana attracted foreign journalists and local media houses. The press conference witnessed journalists from China Central Television (CCTV), SET TV from Taiwan, Pulse TV, TV3 in Ghana, Graphic Ghana, and many other local radio stations.
The event commenced with a welcome address from Joshua Amponsem (Tunza Eco-Generation Ambassador), Nat Martin (Canadian Environmental and Human Rights activists) and Gideon Commey (Founder, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement). A press release article on coal power was read out to the general public, following which we took questions from the media and public concerning their understanding and awareness on coal power plants.
Nat Martin addressing audience at the street press conference on coal.
Most of the questions were geared towards economic stability which will arise if the country possess a constant power supply. However, this argument was disputed by Joshua. He iterated that, power generation from coal is not cheap as presented. Coal waste – particulate matter from the power plants causes health and ecological hazards that could cost the country twice the amount being spent on coal power generation. He also furthered to say, Ghanaians are hungry for constant power supply but the solution is not coal but #renewables.
Media houses present at the event asked series of questions concerning the position of the country during COP21 and the current quest to introduce coal into the country. Climate advocate, Gideon Commey, responded that the country’s decision to bring coal to Ghana contradicts with the commitment of global leaders to fight against global warming and climate change.
Gideon M. Commey answering questions from media.
He mentioned that the President of Ghana, HE John Dramani Mahama, should be mindful of his role as the Co-Chair of a group of 16 influential global figures supporting the UN in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
When asked by the media about the next step of action if government does not heed to the protagonism of environmental activists for solar instead of coal, Joshua Amponsem responded that, activists will travel to the proposed coal project community and educate the community on adverse effects of the project they about to receive. Joshua stressed that the ecological impacts of coal fired plants were so high and therefore, as passionate environmental activists, they will push to the limit until renewable energy is considered as the best alternative to fixing Ghana’s energy crisis.
The event ended with a loud campaign song led by guitarist and environmental enthusiast, Seyram Gh, who composed the song during our walk for solar campaign last year.