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 partnered 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.
Dr. Kofi Boah, a renowned agriculturalist, asked young people to live a greener lifestyle and also focus on sustainable agriculture as a way of adapting to the changing climate.
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.
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 GYEM, GAYO 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 a 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.
With reference to your publication in the Daily Graphic newspaper dated January 8, 2015, page 27, titled ‘Scoping Notice’, we wish you bring to your attention our concerns about the 2x350MW Supercritical Coal Fired-Power Plant as follows:
- We first of all acknowledge that the 120 page Scoping Report only sets out and validate the extent of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project and ascertain the significance of the impact of potential key areas. It is not an ESIA in itself and hence not the absolute document for the justification of the project. However, for the environmental movement in Ghana, it serves as a very important document on the path of rejecting coal power in Ghana and recommend other alternatives to coal;
- Within the few weeks of circulating the Scoping Report to different organizations, civil society platforms, environmental coalitions and indeed the media, we came to a shocking conclusion that a greater section of the public and the media were not adequately aware and informed about the project. We therefore call for a number of coordinated public hearings and press conferences to further discuss it and most importantly involve individuals, organizations and institutions that responded to the Scoping Notice you served with phone calls, emails and in writing;
- Our major concerns about the project are the environmental pollution and health impacts of the activities leading to construction and operation of the coal fired power plant. Although the ESIA will make a frantic effort to quantify the extent of the related environmental impacts, we are well aware of the devastating health and environmental impacts of coal fired power plants across everywhere on this globe. Coal is a foreign pollutant in this part of the globe and indeed the Scoping Report duly acknowledged that there is limited knowledge of coal power use in this part of the world. But we are very much aware of the high level of fly ash, particulate matter (PM10), smog and other thermal pollution related impacts associated with the operation of coal power plants and hence making judgements based on the experiences of their use and impacts elsewhere is very important;
- We are very much aware of the tons of waste- about 5 million tonnes of ash waste (per annum) that would be generated from the plant, the air pollution of poisonous and hazardous gases that are injurious to heath, the discharges into water bodies that threatens aquatic life forms (including turtle breeding grounds close to the project site) and the destruction of the natural environment. While it is important for the ESIA to clearly communicate this for a progressive public debate, we are adequately informed by evidence of coal fired power plants elsewhere that the negative impacts are relentlessly devastating to human life and the environment as well as the irreversible nature of these impacts not only on the environment but also on human life;
- The Scoping Report indicated that children in Ekumfi Aboano are 55.9% of the entire population of 1,900 people. Children are very vulnerable especially to air-borne pollutants such as PM10 and smog. We are deeply concerned by the undeniable facts available that point to their health been compromised by the coal fired power plant. Ghana being a member of WHO, UN and other global conventions has a national mandate to protect the health of children and the vulnerable in society including those in Ekumfi Aboano.
- While we wait for the ESIA to respond fully and appropriately to each impact that would be outlined in that document, we hereby reject the idea of bringing coal power to Ghana on grounds of devastating health and environmental impacts of coal fired-power plants.
- In the interim, we are gathering and collecting signatures of individuals and civil society organizations who also reject coal power in Ghana as a petition to Government to abandon plans of bringing coal to Ghana.
- Respectfully submitted.
Cc: EPA, Ministry of Environment, Science & Technology
Originally posted on: GYEM