Ghana must wean itself off fossil fuels – Expert warns
Nuclear scientist, Dr. Isaac Newton Acquah has cautioned the country to wean itself off fossil fuels as quickly as possible to meet the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, which is to combat climate change and its impact, especially on quality of life and productivity.
He said currently, there are five primary energy sources, namely, coal, oil, natural gas, renewables, and nuclear power. The first three, that is, coal, oil and natural gas, are the fossil fuels used in transport industries, for domestic purposes, as well as for electricity generation.
“Let’s note and accept that the five practical renewable sources are biomass, hydropower, wind power, solar power, and geothermal. Out of these renewable options, only biomass can be used to provide heat, and it is the main source of energy for cooking in developing countries. Renewables and nuclear power are mainly used to generate electricity, and they are expected to produce colossal amount of electricity to cover all the energy needs in all the economic sectors,” he said.
He said it is interesting to note that 77.9 percent of global electricity comes from fossil fuels and nuclear power, while 22.1 percent comes from renewables, with hydropower alone accounting for 16.4 percent. Wind and solar power, the fastest growing technologies, together account for only 3.6 percent of electricity produced in the world.
The other renewables, including biomass and geothermal, generate 2.2 percent of the electricity, he added.
According to Dr. Acquah, since hydropower is almost fully exploited in Ghana and West Africa as well as in many advanced countries, its share is not expected to grow very much henceforth.
Many experts have been advocating an increase in renewable electricity generation in the country, which they argue is the future of electricity generation. Others also advocate for nuclear power, which they say is the cheapest and safest.
However, Dr. Acquah, who is a former Safeguard Inspector at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the proponents of wind and solar power boast about their qualities, but unknowingly or willfully fail to mention their limitations, and tend to mislead policymakers and the general public.
He said wind and solar power have the lowest capacity factors out of all the above-mentioned energy sources for power generation, saying that explains why after decades of rapid growth of wind and solar power, they jointly generate only 3.6 percent of global electricity.