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Business News of Friday, 20 November 2015


Wereko-Brobbey: Coal power 'premature, unjustified'

File photo: Coal Plant File photo: Coal Plant

Ghana's plan to go into coal power production is not only "premature," but also "cannot be justified," energy expert Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey has said.

"You cannot be promoting carbon credits and at the same time contributing to huge emissions of carbon," the former CEO of state power producer Volta River Authority (VRA) said Thursday.

According to him, even though there is clean coal technology, "the cost of achieving clean coal is probably more expensive than generating with thermal."

Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor, who has promised to resign if he fails to solve Ghana’s protracted power crisis by December 31 this year, recently hinted at the country going coal.

"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 told stakeholder of the power sector at a 'Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships in the Electricity Sector' conference organised by the International Finance Corporation and Millennium Development Authority.

The conference was also in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership. The Minister said a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is being considered and that the Volta River Authority (VRA) and China’s Shenzhen Energy Group – parent company of Sunon Asogli Ghana Ltd. – are currently undertaking pre-feasibility studies on the coal project; it is estimated to cost about US$1.5billion to build a 700-megawatt coal-fired plant after feasibility studies yielded positive results.

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.

Dr Donkor told the conference that the Mahama administration "will continue to partner the private sector in order to provide efficient power supply to the country."

Dr Wereko-Brobbey, however, told Joy FM that coal is not what Ghana needs to end the current power crisis. "That will not end 'dumsor' (erratic power supply) at the end of this year."

"We are only at a memorandum of understanding stage, if you are talking coal as a solution; as you say they are, look ten years down the line. So, in the context of: 'Can it end 'dumsor'?' No [it can’t], and there must be some other reason why people are in a rush to do coal," he said.