When the news of Volta River Authority (VRA) going in for Coal-fired plants as an alternative to curb the power crisis in Ghana came up earlier this year, several environmentalists and anti-climate change organizations stood up against the idea stating the grave consequences the carbon emissions from the plants would have on the residents of Ekumfi and its environs.
The Ghana Government in collaboration with a Chinese company, Shenzhen Energy Group Co. Ltd (SEC) is planning to set up a 2*350 MW supercritical coal-fired generating plant at the cost of $1.5 billion at Ekumfi Aboano, in the Ekumfi District of the Central Region earlier this year. The project, according to VRA will be funded by the China African Development (CAD) Fund. Mr. Jacob Brown Yawson, the Manger for Technical Services of the VRA in Aboadze at a community engagement with the people of Saafa Aboano, Saafa Mpoano, Saafa Kokodo, Otuam and Kontakore told them they are very cautious and serious with the environmental impacts of coal operations. He went on to promise them that, the VRA would be using what they call ‘clean coal’ which is less harmful to the environment and the resident
So, the VRA is aware of the serious implications of bringing setting up coal-fired plants close to these coastal communities but still sees it as an alternative to our power crisis. I wasn’t too surprised when I read the DCE for Ekumfi, Mr.Ibrahim K. Dawson praising VRA for such a deadly project “This is historic and would go a long way in addressing some development outcomes including job creation and the shortfalls in power generation”.
The Mpumalanga Coal fired-plant story. South Africa has been mining coal for centuries and it serves as their main source of Energy which also brings about complications they can’t solve. Mpumalanga is a coastal town in South Africa and close to Swaziland. There are 12 coal-fired plants located in almost all the communities in Mpumalanga set up by ESKOM, an Energy producing company.
Communities such as Tutuka, Majuba, Komati, Camden, Kondal, Grootvlei among others are all suffering currently from the thick smokes emitting from the plants. A research done by Groundwork proves that, 2,200 deaths in South Africa are caused by coal fired plants. Whenever the coal is burnt, it emits dangerous pollutants as; Lead, Mercury, Carbon Dioxide, Uranium, Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate matter among others. Groundwork also proved that, 51% of deaths in South Africa are also caused by Respiratory illness whiles 54% are linked to cardiovascular diseases, related to outdoor pollutions Communities around the coast in Ekumfi are also prone to both Respiratory and Cardiovascular diseases if the coal fired plants is allowed on their land. We cannot afford to lose our brothers and sisters through coal fired plants simply because we need electricity! The good people of Saafa Aboano, Saafa Mpoano, Saafa Kokodo, Otuam and Kontakore shouldn’t be allowed to suffer the fate of our brothers and sisters in Mpumalanga.
Violation of SDGs
It seems to me the Volta River Authority (VRA), is forgetting Ghana was a member of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and currently part of the over 120 countries worldwide seeking to achieve a better world by the year 2030 through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG 7, states categorically clear that, “Ensure access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and modern Energy for all”.
Under Target 7.a, “By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology”.
So we all see it states clearly here all countries should go for renewable energy and advanced cleaner fossil-fuel instead of coal.
If some developed nations as America and its likes are all going the Renewable energy way, what then is Ghana getting its inspiration to use Coal from?
SDG 13 also states that, “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. I hereby ask whether VRA with their partners are helping to combat climate change or championing it?
Lastly, SDG 17 says Partnership for Goals. “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”.
His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama made a commitment at COP21 in Paris when he said Ghana is determined to achieve ambitious cuts in greenhouse gases.
His colleague, the Chinese President His Excellency Xi Jinping also made a similar statement “strengthen green and low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing into projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally”
Both the Government of Ghana and the China would be violating the SDGs they all pledged allegiance to if this Coal fired plant which belongs to a Chinese company is allowed to be established.
The Volta River Authority can go for renewable energy as Tide, Wind, Solar and Biodiversity if they really want to help Ghanaians get stable power. I humbly urge the Energy and Power Ministries to consider using lavender hill as a source of Electricity, the sun wasting up in three Northern Regions should be utilized and the Wind and Tide at our Coastal areas must be also tapped.
By Emmanuel Agyemfra Boateng