It is “madness” for Ghana to even consider going coal, a former chief executive officer of state power producer Volta River Authority (VRA), Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby has said.
Ghana’s $1.5-billion 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant project is being undertaken by Chinese-owned Company Shenzhen Energy Group, parent company of local independent power producer Sunon-Asogli Power.
Late last year, Ghana’s Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, who resigned over his inability to solve the country’s four-year power crisis told stakeholders in the power sector at a ‘Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships in the Electricity Sector’ conference organised by the International Finance Corporation and Millennium Development Authority in Accra that: “This country is also moving on a new trajectory, which is that hydro is increasingly becoming a minor player in the generation mix; and, therefore, going forward other generation sources that are more expensive than hydro will have to become the dominant generation source. But Ghana has a responsibility to remain competitive; we are looking at the introduction of clean coal energy to address future needs while the renewable sector builds up.”
Dr Donkor said a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement was being considered and that the Volta River Authority (VRA) and China’s Shenzhen Energy Group have been undertaking pre-feasibility studies on the coal project.
The project is expected to include two units of 350 megawatts, and a subsidiary coal port with a 50,000-tonne berth as a terminal to receive coal from overseas and transmit it to the plant.
Construction could take between 30 to 36 months, or even longer, depending on local conditions and available resources in the country. Ghana currently has an output capacity of 2,125MW and has plans to increase this to 5,000MW by 2016.
However, Dr Wereko-Brobby, known as Tarzan in political circles, told Prince Minkah on the Executive Breakfast Show on Class 91.3 FM on Thursday May 19 that going coal is “complete madness, and we should never get to that.”
“Don’t forget our president is the co-chairman of the Paris climate conference, which just agreed all year round that we should aim to reduce greenhouse gases. You know, some people argue that the West builds coal plants; the west does not have the problem that China has had, in which occasionally, almost every few months, the major cities of china have to shut down because the coal technology they’ve employed have been very bad technology and they are now trying to convince us that they’ve found better technology, I myself am not convinced of that, so, we need to do better interrogation and have a much more realistic and climate-friendly energy policy. China itself is going out of coal, the biggest coal power company in the world, situated in West Virginia in the USA has gone into bankruptcy, the whole world is turning away from coal, I do not see why we should be getting into this business simply because somebody wants to make money,” Dr Wereko-Brobby added.
In his view, going coal will be compounding Ghana’s power problems. “…We have plants in Tema, gas from Nigeria is not coming, now we are about to compound that problem by building coal power plant when we don’t have any coal in Ghana; the stupidity of thinking that must not be countenanced because part of the problem we are facing is that we have got plants, which cannot be fuelled because the fuel is coming from abroad, and now they are going to build a plant, which depends on dirty fuel imported into this country, when we are just about to develop our own gas phase 2 from the Eni plant, so, what’s the logic in trying to build a coal plant or import coal into this country?”