Niger, Africa, is considering building a new small coal fired power station. Greenpeace have protested before at coal power stations in Africa. But how compassionate are those who don’t want Africa to use cheap coal fired power (like, say, professors at western universities?) TonyfromOz puts the issue in perspective. I knew much of Africa was very very poor, but this rather lays the dismal extent out before us. Mali, a nation of 15 million people produces the same amount of electricity as the small town of Dubbo, NSW. Niger, with 17 million, produces even less. All up, there are 23 nations in Africa that each produce less electricity than Dubbo. If we combine them, the 142 million people in those 23 nations are using the same amount of electricity as Adelaide in Australia (which has about 1.1 million people). Stark.
Perhaps we could ask Niger if they’d like to help reduce global temperatures by 0.0 degrees, or if they would rather save money and have electricity that works at night instead? — Jo
Guest Post – TonyfromOz
However, when we look in detail at the power generation in Africa, we see some startling facts about how little electrical power they actually do have. The total population of the whole of the 58 African countries is at 1.15 Billion people, and probably close to 600 Million people or even more have no access whatsoever to any electrical power, let alone the readily accessible and well regulated supply which we in the Developed World take so utterly for granted.
So then, would this proposed coal fired plant add much to that poor access to electrical power? After all, it’s only a relatively small plant of just one Unit, and the Nameplate Capacity is only 600MW.
Here in Australia, recently, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Professor Jeffrey Sachs was here telling Australians that we need to move closer towards a low carbon economy. One of the things he said was the following: (my bolding)
Actually poorer countries have wonderful options because the price of photo-voltaics is falling so sharply, places like Mali. Actually the low-cost solution is off-grid photo-voltaic power. The fact that we can now put solar panels for pumps for irrigation, for refrigeration, for cold chains, for vaccines, for running schools, for allowing remote schools to be online. Those poor countries have options. — ABC interview
So is small scale Solar PV power any use to countries like Mali? There are 15.5 million people in Mali and they have a total power generation of 520GWH (gigawatt hours) per year, and while that sounds like quite a lot, it is very small per capita. It is about the same power generation as the town of Dubbo in NSW, Australia — which has only 40,000 people, not 15 million. Mali has 387 times more people than Dubbo has. And that the city of Dubbo is not special in the developed world. It has average power consumption for a city of that size.
So I invented “the Dubbo-scale” and went hunting to see which African nations have less power generation than Dubbo. (Which is roughly the same size as Bozeman, Montana, Cupertino city California, or Mentor, Ohio or Perth in Scotland.)
The US EIA lists power generation data for all countries. I then drew up a chart listing all those African countries scoring less than “1″ on the Dubbo-scale of electricity production. There are 23 countries on this list, so more than half of all African nations produce less electricity than Dubbo.
At the bottom of the list of African countries, I have then added up the total population and added up the total power generation. I then found an equivalent Australian city which consumes around the same amount of power as that generated by all 23 of these African countries. That’s Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia.
|Country||Population||Generated Power GigaWattHours (GWH)|
|Dubbo (A City in Australia)||0.04 Million||520GWH|
|Burkina Faso||16.5 Million||540GWH|
|Cape Verde||0.52 Million||307GWH|
|Equatorial Guinea||0.75 Million||97GWH|
|Guinea Bissau||1.7 Million||55GWH|
|Saint Helena||0.004 Million||8GWH|
|Sao Tome and Principe||0.2 Million||60GWH|
|Sierra Leone||6.1 Million||145GWH|
|Adelaide (Capital City of South Australia)||1.1 Million||6.200TWH|
|Australia||22 Million||235 TWH|
|Africa||1,150 Million||655 TWH|
Not one of those African countries has equivalent power generation even closely comparable in scale to the power consumed in Dubbo, not even the tiny countries reliant on the tourist trade, where availability of power is requisite to cater for those tourists.
However, compare every other country with the power consumed by Adelaide, population 1.1 million. In all of those African countries combined, there would not enough power to support just one developed medium size city.
Those 23 countries have a total population 123 times larger than Adelaide. In fact, there are only 14 countries in Africa which generate more power than Adelaide consumes, and none of those countries is anywhere even close to the rate at which power is being consumed in Adelaide. Instead of Adelaide, it could have been Dallas and San Antonio in Texas or San Diego in California. For Europe, similarly populated cities would be Prague in The Czech Republic, Milan in Italy, and Munich in Germany. Each of these cities would consume more electrical power than the combined 23 countries shown on that table above, which have a total population of 142 Million.
Only ONE country in the whole of Africa generates more power than Australia does (235TWH), and that’s South Africa which generates 243TWH. South Africa has a population of 55 Million people, more than double that of Australia. The next highest power generation in Africa is Egypt, which generates 150TWH, barely two thirds of Australia’s total, and this is for 82 Million people, almost 4 times the population of Australia. These are the only 2 countries in all of Africa to generate more than 100TWH per year. The most populous country in Africa is Nigeria, and that Country only generates 27TWH of power, just more than 10% of that being generated in Australia. However, the population of Nigeria is 180 Million people, 8.2 times as many people as in Australia.
So, how significant would the new coal fired plant proposed for Niger be with respect to the power being generated? It’s one single unit of 600MW Nameplate Capacity, which will deliver 4.6TWH of power each year (or 4,600GWH). This one unit will increase power generation in Niger by a factor of 15. It would generate 75% as much power as is being generated in all 23 of the countries in the table above.
In Australia, the Bayswater, power plant was made in the early 1980′s and has 4 units, each of 660MW. Each year it delivers 17,000GWH of power. This single power station generates almost three times the total power being produced in all of these 23 countries. In Australia, we have 7 large scale power plants around the same sized power output as Bayswater.
So, I’m quite happy to hear of green heads exploding when they read of a new coal fired power plant being constructed, because there is no better place to build one than in Africa. Green protests take hypocrisy to all new heights. This green dream of theirs is that they allow no new coal fired power plants anywhere, and to close down existing plants because of so called CO2 emissions causing dangerous Climate Change. So, in effect, the end result of their green dream is that we go back and live like these African people are already living right now. Who are we to deny these people in Africa access to the electrical power that we take so utterly for granted, most especially those green supporters who take advantage of that ready access to electrical power, and in the same breath seek to deny hundreds of millions of people that same access that they already have.
[Speaking of green heads and electricity, did you know they could grow them like this for just 4c per head? - Jo]
Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.