Over the past years, fossil fuels have been found guilty of causing global warming and countries developing such resources have come under intense pressure to abandon them. However, the same metric is being used for all countries, without considering the devastating consequences they may have on them.
That said, to ensure the transition is just for countries such as Ghana, it must be natural gas tolerant, since it is considered cleaner than oil. The global energy transition cannot be all about renewable energies, which themselves are expensive and unreliable at best. While some countries have built the muscles and technologies to rapidly accommodate renewable energies more widely, it is not so for developing economies like Ghana.
Besides, such countries are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases that threaten the planet, and if there is any urgency to abandon such gas resources, these countries should rather be in that position to reduce their carbon footprints, at least to appreciable levels.
Like its peers in the sub-region, Ghana lacks carbon efficient technologies to transition to lower carbon emissions rapidly. Therefore, by abandoning its gas resources for renewable energy alternative exclusively, this will lead to insurmountable energy security and poverty challenges.
For instance, Ghana’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita stood at 0.56 tons, equivalently 16.8 million tonnes as of 2019 while China and the US alone emitted roughly 45 per cent of total global CO2 emissions in the same year.
However, the push has been for oil and gas producing countries to abandon their gas reserves in the ground for a renewable energy alternative. Worse still, the large emitters of greenhouse gases continue to remain at the top of the chart.
The Energy Transition should be based on a country-by-country approach
While it is totally agreeable that, for the sake of the rapid global warming, urgent actions must be taken, that does not suggest all countries should approach the transition in the same manner, as it is currently heralded.
As the African Energy Chamber (AEC) put it: what will happen if a country like Ghana succumbs to the pressure to leave its natural gas resources in the ground and do not monetize it for the benefit of its people?
“Certainly, there will be some positive consequences. [Ghana] will attract praise from multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace.
“We’ll get some good press coverage. Maybe it will be enough to convince private investors to build new wind farms and solar parks. Maybe it will be enough to remind the world’s most advanced economies of their unfulfilled promise to mobilize US$100 billion worth of funding per year for climate mitigation.
“But will it be enough to make up for the 6,000 MW of new gas-fired generating capacity that we don’t build? Will it be enough to eliminate the power shortages that have bedeviled [Ghanaian] businesses, forcing many of them to buy diesel generators just so they can keep running? Will it be enough to make blackouts a thing of the past for city dwellers who just want a better life for their families? Will it be enough to bring electricity to rural communities that have yet to be connected to the national grid?”Africa Energy Chamber, AEC
Ghana, Africa’s voice must heard at the COP26 loud and clear
Refreshingly, Dr. Ben K.D. Asante, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC) is cited to have said:
“I don’t think that the transition period is going to end in 2040 or 2050, I think it’s going to be longer. I think fossil fuels would stick with us longer than some of the other countries are projecting but as we transition, gas will trump oil, gas is the best bet.”Dr. Ben K.D. Asante, CEO, Ghana National Gas Company
The vast amount of Ghana’s Natural Gas reserves is roughly 6.4Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) with 2.2TCF of associated gas and 4.2TCF of non-associated natural gas. For the first half of 2021, the cumulative raw gas production was 127,496.04million standard cubic feet (MMscf).
This reflects a 9.56 percent increase over the volume of 116,373.39 MMscf produced for the same period in 2020, and the highest recorded half-year volume since 2014. Production from Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa Fields increased by 10.6, 12.8 and 7.42 percent respectively over the period. These present opportunities for Ghana to address its developmental challenges, should it monetize these increasing natural gas resources.
With the COP26 about to take place in November 2021, the region’s voice must be heard loud and clear. Ghana and its peers should be allowed to develop their natural gas resources for the benefit of their people while gradually adopting renewable energies alongside to aid in a robust transition.
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