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Opinions of Friday, 29 July 2016

Columnist: Anokye, Kofi

Power barge likely to be the cause of poor rainfall pattern

Undoubtedly, rainfall pattern in Ghana has changed considerably over the last months to a year now.

A cursory study of this change at least from 1983 will reveal that there hasn't been such change across the coastal through to the middle belt in such a huge manner.

Until the last couple of days when we started seeing some rains and the June 3 and 4th major downpours across the country, formation of clouds in most part of the year have not resulted in rainfalls as usually expected.

In this article, I want to prove why the power barge is very likely to be a major contributing factor to this alarming rainfall pattern The oceans are the chief source of rain. The Sun's heat evaporates the water. It remains in the atmosphere as an invisible vapour until it condenses, first into clouds and then into raindrops. Condensation happens when the air is cooled.

My little knowledge in geography from my secondary school days tells me that the SOUTH WEST MONSOON WINDS which is largely the result of rainfall across the country starts from the western belt.

The part of the country where these processes mostly take place is along the western coast- exactly where the power barges are being operated One may ask how the power barge being there interferes with the formation of rains.

This is the technical explanation: The locomotive engine of the power barge which is powered by crude oil or liquefied petroleum gas releases heat, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete combustion whereas carbon dioxide is released when combustion is incomplete.

Mechanically, it is nearly impossible to avoid this when operating generators. The power barges are simply synchronised generators Of the harmful effect of these gases which I will come to later, it is the release of heat into the atmosphere at exactly where most of the formation of rainfall starts in Ghana that is in my opinion affecting the rainfall pattern the most and in such a drastic fashion.

The chemistry is that, for rains to fall, the air must be saturated with the moisture content such that when the air cannot hold that volume of moisture any longer, it condenses and falls as rains. When ‘moisturous’ wind comes into contact with heat, it dries up. This is a simple logic

On the part or the carbon monoxide, it drains the atmosphere of the oxygen in it. For water to be formed, oxygen must come into contact with hydrogen. Without oxygen meeting hydrogen, we cannot have waters. Oxygen(O) + Hydrogen (H) = Water (H2O). In view of this, when incomplete combustion results in the release of Carbon Monoxide towards exactly where rainfall is formed (South-West Coast), then the draining of oxygen will result in formation in small amount of rain.

This position of mine is somehow corroborated by the recent rains we are enjoying since Karpower halted production due to shortage of crude oil and gas.

There may be many other reason for the poor rainfall pattern this year but I hold on to the position that the barges are playing a huge role in it. I am calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ghana Meteorological Agency to come out with an impact analysis on the power barges for the public to know the poison we are being exposed to in our search for electricity. My question is: were they consulted prior to making these purchases

I warned the government on the impact of the power barges on 10th November 2015 with this article:

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Heads-Must-Roll-at-MoP-VRA-and-GRIDCo-393045

I followed up with another on January 2016 stating all the problems the power barges will create for us with this: http://www.peacefmonline.com/pages/comment/features/201602/268932.php

In the article, I stated categorically that the power barges will come with massive environmental challenges. Research indicates that carbon monoxide is very dangerous for persons with heart problems.

Last week’s demonstration by residents of Tema against the environmental challenges the power barges are presenting confirms the position I took from day one since the decision to use the synchronised generators went public.

Carbon monoxide is a poison that can suffocate people if it builds up. In low concentrations carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms. High concentrations can kill within minutes, especially in a confined space such as your home.

In Ghana, people use rainfall for virtually everything without treatment, our rains are going to be acidic with time and be very harmful. We will not be getting much rains and the little we get will be poisoned. Carbon Dioxide is a major cause of acid rain.

As you pay your outrageous electricity bill, save for medical bills as well. What I have heard is that government is considering coal as another alternative. In fact, we are getting what China is dumping into the trashcan because they want to run away from coal.

Coal is more dangerous and deadly. For now, I want to treat it us a rumour but if it does happen, then we must prepare for the very worse.

Who at all is advising this government on this energy issue? I believe that if our leaders will listen, we will be out of this mess and for good. We can get the water behind the dam. I have said repeatedly that I can help the government to do this. Why the obsession for crude and gas powered plants when we can get our hydro operating year round.

We must start thinking outside the box to find proper solutions to our problems. Some solutions come with luggage of problems that dwarf the existing problems that they were intended to solve. The power barge is a typical example.

We must start thinking as a nation. No problem is beyond us if we trust in our ability to do and do things our way.