Business News of 2014-06-14

Time for coal - Energy Ministry

The quest for a sustainable solution to the major hiccups in Ghana’s power generation will not bear much fruit if the viability of coal-fired plants is persistently overlooked, the Energy Ministry has said.
Coal has widely been tagged as “unclean” energy, but Deputy Energy Minister John Jinapor said it is one of country’s surest bets to get out of the chronic power crisis that has angered households and crippled industries.
Speaking in Accra at the launch of two books, Lake of Life and Field Guide to the Volta River Basin, which were commissioned by the Volta River Authority, Mr. Jinapor said: “It is a very sensitive topical issue. Anytime we talk about the coal option we have environmentalists and green advocates speaking against it.
“The bottom line is: you cannot eat your cake and have it. If you look at other industrialised countries they are either using coal or have used it to build up their generation to a certain level before starting to look at other sources.
“Even countries like the US rely heavily on coal for power generation. This is the stark reality facing us. So we will continue engaging in the coal debate. If Ghana intends making a giant leap in power generation, say an additional 1,000MW, we can get that from coal.”
Ghana’s energy sources are mainly hydro and thermal, with coal playing no role at present.
Power demand is close to 2,000 megawatts, but a current shortfall in generation of about 400 megawatts -- due to plant shutdowns for maintenance and reduced hydro generation -- has triggered nation-wide power-rationing.
Amid the ongoing challenges, Mr. Jinapor said coal offers a better option for reliable power, and that government is prepared to shake-off the fuel’s unclean tag by exploiting every available technology to improve its efficiency.
“This is an option we have been looking at, especially with modern technology whereby you can have carbon capture and clean coal. We must diversify as much as we can and ensure that we build a resilient energy sector. The energy stakeholders will work hard to overcome the present power hiccups,” he added.
First coal plant
China’s Shenzhen Energy Group, parent company of Sunon Asogli Ghana Ltd., has said it plans to spend US$1.5 billion 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 (700megawatts) 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 Ghana, the company said.
Source: B&FT
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