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Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana does not need 'obroni wawu coal'

Tue, 16 Feb 2016 Source: Lungu, Prof.

Listen Patrick Asare: Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana Does Not Need "Obroni Wawu Coal"!

By: Prof Lungu

We read with amusement and a measure of bewilderment the 2 February, 2016, article by Patrick Asare titled, "Ghana’s plan to build a coal power plant merits applause, not condemnation" (graphic.com.gh/features/57505...).

Our sense is, the government's plan to build coal-fired plants in Ghana merits serious critique and condemnation.

And we have, more than once:

The problem with Mr. Patrick Asare's essay is that the title of the paper did not even match the content of the article. While his title refers to "a coal power plant", strangely, embedded within the essay are references to "...government’s plan to build two 350-megawatt coal-fired power plants in the country" and "a modest coal power plant in the country".

So, which is which?

The question for Mr. Asare is, in 2016, how many "modest coal power plants" would meet with his approval - for condemnation of the government?

Says Mr. Asare:

"...(T)his right to criticize (government) should be accompanied by a responsibility to explain, at the very least, why we think a given policy is wrong. Otherwise, our criticisms cannot be viewed as constructive...".

The way we see it, Mr. Asare failed, miserably, in fact, to explain why he thinks a policy of multiple coal power plants in Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana is "correct", and therefore worthy of his praise and support.

Fact: Mr. Asare totally neglected to talk about the cost of the coal project(s)!

Mr. Asare never bothered to talk about where Ghana was going to get the coal from.

Mr. Asare never talked about how Ghana was going to pay for the coal, or how Ghana was going to ensure the coal would always be available at a cost Ghana could afford.

Mr. Asare never talked about how delivery of the coal required for the multiple coal plants would be permanently secured (in the medium- to long-term).

Because Mr. Asare never bothered to present a single number on cost, including cost for purchase, operation, risks and opportunities, balanced with payback and time-measured returns on investment(s), Mr. Patrick Asare himself failed his own test.

So, here is some data for Mr. Asare, even as the cost of solar energy is declining the fastest!

Compare Energy (Cost per Kwh):

A. Solar Energy: 12.5¢

B. Natural Gas: 18¢

C. Coal: 14¢

D. Wind Energy: 20¢

Sure, a "well-diversified mix of fuels for power generation" is an important goal that we all ought to be for. However, it is a farcical, useless theory if it is not properly grounded in context, in time, and place.

Even so, the way is see it, that is the least of Mr. Asare's analytical and credibility problems.

In 2016, nearly fifty years after Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah was directing that the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) fast-track solar power research for industry in Ghana, Mr. Asare cannot simply regurgitate coal and oil lobby excuses to support of his employer(s) business interests and portfolio, so to speak.

Says Mr. Asare:

"...When it comes to a subject as complicated as carbon emissions and...climate change, simply repeating what others elsewhere have said...is and should not be enough...Using such a generalization to argue against the government’s plan is unconvincing, to say the least...The fact is that as humans, there are numerous things that, if not consumed in moderation, would kill us..."

That, we say, is classic, American-style political lobbyist's talk!

It is hogwash masquerading as commonsense!

It is irrational, and counter-history!

Those are the same kinds of reasons and excuses the tobacco companies deployed as they were killing millions of people, until governments and the people became smarter.

Then they said enough is enough: Tobacco Smoke and Smoking is Cancerous!

They are the same kinds of reasons coal and oil lobbyists, including "free" market entrepreneurs, and so-called conservative Republicans employ in the United States to deny that man is not responsible for any harm to the environment; that they themselves are not scientists but know that surely climate change is a farce concocted by activist scientists all over the globe.

Shameful!

The major problem for Mr. Asare is that he himself reports that he is:

"...the manager of retail power marketing at UGI Energy Services, LLC, a diversified energy services firm in Pennsylvania, USA..."

We will point out that even though Mr. Asare has told us more than once that he has a Master’s degree in electrical engineering, with that evidentially track record, we government and the People ought take everything he says about coal, oil, solar power, and renewable energy, with a Mighty-Mount-Afadjato-Grain-Of-Salt, in Ghana-speak!

We are saying that Mr. Asare is not an objective, disinterested party to the alternative energy policy discourse.

For one, the pithy but direct information we were able to analyze about his employer, UGI Energy Services, shows that there is truly little "diversified mix" of alternative sources in the UGI Energy Services "power" portfolio:

Practically, everything they manage is either Coal- or Gas-sourced!

Here is UGI Energy Services in their own words:

"Electric Power Generation Assets....

UGIES owns electric generation facilities and markets power to wholesale and retail customers... UGIES recently converted a former coal-fired generation plant to a clean-burning natural gas combined-cycle generating station with 130 MW of capacity. In 2009, UGIES brought on-line a renewable energy project that captures landfill gas to generate electricity. In 2010, UGIES completed a solar generation facility at Crayola...."

(http://www.ugies.com/Assets/PowerGen.aspx).

From that, we can surmise that in almost 8 years, UGI Energy Services has only been involved with just 3 renewable energy projects, one of which was actually a conversion from coal; and the other, a solar generation "facility at Crayola".

On further review, we found that the 1.9MW Crayola design-build-operate solar power facility in Pennsylvania, USA, was actually a joint project with "PPL Renewable Energy of Allentown, PA." Crayola is simply buying the power from the joint US government/Pennsylvania government-subsidized solar power plant.

Talking about "free enterprise" and entrepreneurship in America.

But we digress!

Fact is, because we do not see a significant "diversified mix" of alternative sources of energy in the portfolio UGI Energy Services, Mr. Asare's employer, Mr Asare can't necessarily be accepted as a disinterested, objective commenter in the policy discourse about coal power plants, versus solar power plants, for Ghana (and Africa).

To the point, Mr. Asare essentially works for a power company that is for all practical purposes a Coal Power Company. In fact, UGI Energy Services' primary facility is a 1,711MW "Conemaugh Power Station, Near Johnstown, PA", which itself is "co-owned", with other entities.

In closing, it is our position that Mr. Patrick Asare's critique of the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement is poorly supported by objective analysis. He himself offered no data. He presented no facts!

As we've argued, Mr. Asare is far from being a neutral, objective observer.

In 2016, almost 50 years since Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah directed research into solar energy and power for industry in Ghana, the Government and People of Ghana ought not import archaic, economically, and environmentally unsustainable technologies such as coal plants into Ghana. Ghana, after all does not produce coal.

But the sun is still free in Ghana!

The sun has no transportation costs!

The sun has no security costs!

So, is the wind!

Even so, bio-mass, if we must surely, and wisely, compare!

To the point: Ghana does not need "Obroni Wawu Coal Power". Ghana does not need someone's' rejected hand-me down. That is, if we are truly serious about solving problems in the interest of the average citizen who is necessarily at the center of economy and governance.

Or, we must not truly believe 50% of what we say, even.

So it goes, Ghana!

Notes:

1. Patrick Asare: Ghana’s plan to build a coal power plant merits applause, not condemnation. (http://www.graphic.com.gh/features/57505-patrick-asare-ghana-s-plan-to-build-a-coal-power-plant-merits-applause-not-condemnation.html).

2. Nkrumah's Vision for Solar Energy & Development: Memo for Ghana! (http://www.ghanahero.com/Visions/Nkrumah_Legacy_Project/Prof_Lungu/Nkrumahs_Vision_for_Solar_Energy_Dev_Memo.pdf).

3. Comparative Energy Cost Table (2015)

(See: http://www.ghanahero.com/Visions/Nkrumah_Legacy_Project/Prof_Lungu/Are_Ghanaian_Politicians_Stuck_on_Stupid-Rev2.pdf).

Fair-Trade Oil Share-Ghana (FTOS-GH): Read About It: https://www.change.org/p/ghana-fair-trade-oil-share-psa-campaign-ftos-gh-psa).

www.GhanaHero.com.

www.GHanaHero.Com/FTOS_Gh_Campaign, for more information.

(Join the Action! Read Mo! Listen Mo! See Mo! Reflect Mo!).

©Prof Lungu is Ghana-Centered/Ghana-Proud.

@professorlungu - Twitter

Prof Lungu is based in Washington DC, USA.

Listen Patrick Asare: Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana Does Not Need Obroni Wawu Coal!

Brought to you courtesy www.GhanaHero.com©14 February, 2016.

Columnist: Lungu, Prof.