Saturday, 3 January 2015

Dr. Kwabena Donkor Must Reconsider Decision To Allow Coal-Fired Power Plants To Be Built In Ghana

The independent power producer,  Sunon Asogli Power Company, ought to shelve its plan to build a coal-fired power plant in Ghana. That positive decision must be taken by the company this year.

The cost to society, in terms of the massive air pollution caused by such power plants, which results in thousands of deaths from respiratory diseases annually, cannot be justified - when natural gas from Ghanaian oilfields could equally power Sunon Asogli's proposed power plant.

It is important that in its drive to increase its power-generating capacity Ghana takes note of current trends in China - where coal-fired power plants are being shut down in major population centres and moved to the provinces, as that nation takes steps to improve air-quality in major cities including the capital Beijing.

For the benefit of those amongst our ruling elites who are not yet aware of current trends in China, I am reproducing an article by Debra Killalea, entitled "Beijing to close coal-burning power stations to clean up air pollution". It was culled from the News.com.au website.

One hopes that it will make Dr. Kwabena Donkor, Ghana's minister for power, temper his enthusiasm for coal-fired power plants. He must consider the importance, from a public health standpoint, of not sanctioning projects that will result in the emission of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere: so as to safeguard the air-quality in towns and cities across Ghana.

(Incidentally, it must be noted that emissions from coal-fired power plants also contain sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (fly ash) and mercury.)

Instead of opting for coal-fired powered plants, let us focus on exploiting the gas deposits in the oilfields off our shores, to fire our nation's electricity generating plants.

Please read on:

"Beijing to close coal-burning power stations to clean up air pollution

A man wears a mask on Tiananmen Square in thick haze in Beijing.
A man wears a mask on Tiananmen Square in thick haze in Beijing. Source: AP

IT IS a country at war with air pollution, and now China has taken drastic action to clean up its capital city. 
China has notoriously shocking levels of pollution, with officials revealing air quality is below national standards in almost all its major cities.
The pollution has sparked growing health concerns about air quality with calls for the government to do something about it.
Today, Beijing announced it will stop using coal and its related products, and close coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities by 2020 in six of its capital districts.

A woman looks after she puts on her mask near the residential apartment buildings shroude
A woman looks after she puts on her mask near the residential apartment buildings shrouded by haze in Beijing. Source: AP
 
Wu Xiaoqing, a vice minister of environment protection, said only three out of the 74 cities monitored by the government met a new air quality standard, a figure which set off alarm bells over growing health concerns.
But the problem is at “hazardous” levels in the capital Beijing, with industry, energy use and transport largely to blame.
Coal makes up one-quarter of the city’s total energy consumption, according to Xinhua news agency
With more than 13 million cars sold in China last year, motor vehicles have emerged as th

With more than 13 million cars sold in China last year, motor vehicles have emerged as the chief culprit for the throat-choking air pollution in big cities especially Beijing. Source: AP
 
Last year Beijing reportedly experienced 189 days of pollution.
The US embassy pollution index in Beijing produces an Air Quality Index, which measures six pollutants.

According to the index, which follows US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, an air quality level of more than 100 is “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.
More than 150 is “unhealthy”, and more than 300 is considered “hazardous”, the index reveals.

At one point last year Beijing’s smog was measured at more than 750.
A coal power station generates smoke in Beijing, China.
A coal power station generates smoke in Beijing, China. Source: AP
 
And while Beijing’s bold move may sound like bad news for Australia’s economy, our coal industry thinks exports to China will actually continue to grow.
The Minerals Council of Australia said Beijing was simply moving its coal-fired electricity generation, not banning or stopping it.
According to the council’s executive director of coal, Greg Evans, Beijing’s decision had been flagged for some time.
“It reflects Chinese policy to replace existing coal-fired plants with new, larger, more efficient coal-fired plants in provinces further west and transmit electricity from these plants to the coastal provinces via ultra-high-voltage transmission lines,” he said in a statement provided to news.com.au.
Air pollution is a massive concern for Beijing residents.
Air pollution is a massive concern for Beijing residents. Source: AFP
 
His comments were backed by global energy, metals and mining research and consultancy group Wood MacKenzie, which found this would have a limited impact on overall thermal coal demand.
“The transmission lines from the northwest will transmit coal-fired generation; hence, it just moves coal demand from the coast to the interior” it said in a press release last year.
According to the Minerals Council, modern coal-fired power stations have cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent and the industry supports 200,000 jobs and generates $40 billion in exports.

Beijing’s move is being seen as a positive one by the Clean Energy Council which said there was a global trend for countries to use and invest in greener forms of energy.
Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said China was moving along with the strong global trend towards less carbon-intensive forms of energy.
“China is really leading the world in deploying renewable energy and installing record levels of wind and solar power,” he said.
“More than 140 countries now have a renewable energy target in place, which has resulted in one-fifth of the world’s power production now coming from renewable sources.”"

End of culled article from News.com.au article by Debra Killalea.
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