Ghana, stuck with the wind 6

The American Dictator (yes, he’s the one we mean) is doing his utmost to keep Africa in poverty and despair.

Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, writes today at Townhall:

I see Africa as a … partner with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children,” President Obama declared in Ghana last July.

However, three months later, the President signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30% over the next ten years. The order undermines the ability of Sub-Saharan African nations to achieve energy, economic and human rights progress. 

Ghana is trying to build a 130-MW gas-fired power plant, to bring electricity’s blessings to more of its people, schools, hospitals and businesses. Today, almost half of Ghanaians never have access to electricity, or get it only a few hours a week, leaving their futures bleak.

Most people in Ghana are forced to cook and heat with wood, crop wastes or dung, says Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Imani (Hope) Center for Policy and Education, in Accra. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes blindness, asthma and severe lung infections that kill a million women and young children every year. Countless more Africans die from intestinal diseases caused by eating unrefrigerated, spoiled food.

But when Ghana turned to its United States “partner” and asked OPIC to support the $185-million project, OPIC refused to finance even part of it – thus adding as much as 20% to its financing cost. Repeated across Africa, these extra costs for meeting “climate change prevention” policies will threaten numerous projects, and prolong poverty and disease for millions.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million people, 80% of whom live on less than $2.50 per day. Over 700 million people – twice the population of the USA and Canada combined – rarely or never have access to the lifesaving, prosperity-creating benefits of electricity …

Even in South Africa, the most advanced nation in this region, 25% of the populace still has no electricity. Pervasively insufficient electrical power has meant frequent brownouts that have hampered factory output and forced gold and diamond mines to shut down, because of risks that miners would suffocate in darkness deep underground. The country also suffers from maternal mortality rates 36 times higher than in the US, and tuberculosis rates 237 times higher.

And yet President Obama told his Ghanaian audience last July that Africa is gravely “threatened” by global warming, which he argues “will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops,” leading to more famine and conflict. Africa, he says, can “increase access to power, while skipping – leapfrogging – the dirtier phase of development,” by using its “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy.

The President made these remarks before the scandalous “Climategate” emails were made public, and headline-grabbing claims about melting glaciers, burning Amazon rainforests and disappearing African agriculture were shown to be mere speculation and exaggeration from climate activists

Literally thousands of scientists disagree with claims that we face an imminent manmade global warming disaster, or that warming is connected to disease or harvests. Africa has faced drought, famine and disease since before Biblical times, and armed conflict is far more likely where a lack of electricity perpetuates poverty, scarcity and dashed hopes.

Wind and solar power are too costly, intermittent and land-intensive to meet the needs of emerging economies

That is why rapidly-developing nations like China and India are building power plants at the rate of one per week… Nearly all this electricity must be based on coal.

Wind power is constrained by high cost and limited reliability. Nuclear energy faces major cost and political obstacles. To electrify India in the absence of coal, the country would have to find 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, build 250 nuclear power plants, or construct the equivalent of 450 Hoover Dams, Penn State University professor Frank Clemente calculates. Those alternatives are unrealistic.

Blessed with abundant supplies of coal, South Africa has applied for a World Bank loan to continue building its 4,800-megawatt Medupi power plant. The Medupi plant would be equipped with the latest in “supercritical clean coal,” pollution control and “carbon capture” technologies. However, the project and loan have run into a buzz saw of opposition, led by the Center for American Progress, Africa Action, Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club. These radical groups claim to champion justice and better health for Africa, but oppose the very technologies that would make that possible…

The proposed Ghana and South Africa power plants already leapfrog dirtier development phases, by providing state-of-the-art pollution control technology. The energy alternatives President Obama envisions would do little to address the desperate crises that threaten Africans’ health, welfare and lives.

China and India are showing Africa the way forward. Those of us in already developed countries should support Africa’s aspirations – and help it address real health and environmental problems, by using affordable, dependable energy that truly is the lifeblood of modern societies, and the key to a better future for children everywhere.

In energy policy, ideology trumps common sense 0

 Two articles in Investor’s Business Daily show how wrong-headed the governing Democrats’ energy policy is:  

The first is about the inadequacy of wind and solar sources and their disproportionate costs:

Solar and wind together provide less than half of 1% of our electricity. Hydropower provides 7%, natural gas and nuclear about 20% each, and coal about half. Incredibly, a possible $50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power was stripped from the stimulus in the committee conference process.

Just how renewable are renewable sources of energy? Although silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen, it makes relatively inefficient cells that struggle to compete with electricity generated from fossil fuels. Silicon solar cells convert only 25% of light energy received to electricity.

More advanced solar cells that can achieve efficiencies of 40% or more use the metal iridium. But it constitutes just 0.25 parts per million of the earth’s crust, and there’s only a 10-year supply left. Alternatives may be found, but that’s not solar power’s only problem.

Two projects in development will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels. At noon on a cloudless day they are designed to produce 800 megawatts of electricity, about as much as one large coal-fired plant. But actual production will likely be one-third that, and at uncompetitive rates.

The Energy Administration reported in early 2008 that government subsidies, before the stimulus bill, amounted to $24.34 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for solar and $23.37 per MWh for wind.

Continued subsidies for inefficient energy sources at the expense of reliable and abundant sources will only drive up energy costs and the national debt, while making it harder for the energy-starved American economy to recover.

The second explains how opposition to efficient and cost-effective nuclear power is based not on science but on prejudice:

During a campaign forum in Las Vegas last year, then-candidate Obama commented as follows on the site designed to safely store spent fuel from America’s 104 operating commercial nuclear reactors: "I will end the notion of Yucca Mountain because it has not been based on the sort of sound science that can assure the people of Nevada that they’re going to be safe."

Now-President Obama has kept his promise by virtually zeroing out Yucca’s budget in 2010, leaving only enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to handle current licensing requests. House and Senate Democrats have already cut funding for the remainder of fiscal 2009 to a paltry $288 million, the lowest in recent years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada and is a longtime Yucca opponent, is ecstatic. The budget cut is "a critical first step toward fulfilling his promise to end the Yucca Mountain project," Reid said in a statement. "President Obama recognizes that the proposed dump threatens the health and safety of Nevadans and millions of Americans."

Yucca Mountain is not a "dump," and it is not unsafe. Situated about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, it is quite possibly the safest, most geologically stable and most studied place on the planet.

The Department of Energy has long studied the rock at the planned repository, assessing how the repository would perform over tens of thousands of years. After 20 years and $9 billion, DOE has found Yucca Mountain to be quite stable and safe.

The DOE Web site says that after two decades "of carefully planned and reviewed scientific fieldwork, the Department of Energy has found that a repository at Yucca Mountain brings together the location, natural barriers and design elements most likely to protect the health and safety of the public, including those Americans living in the immediate vicinity, now and long into the future."

Reid may not want it in his back yard, but he doesn’t mind keeping America’s nuclear waste where it is right now — in everybody else’s back yard. Vast numbers of spent nuclear fuel rods are now stored at more than 130 above-ground facilities in 39 states. About 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of these existing sites.

We need the jobs nuclear power can provide, and we need the energy. The Energy Information Agency projects that by 2030 U.S. electricity demand will increase by 45%. Since nuclear power currently supplies 20%, the U.S. will need to have 35 additional nuclear power plants just to meet future demand.

Nuclear power is "green" energy, and the jobs it creates and supports are "green" jobs. Had America’s nuclear reactors not been operating, about 48 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 19 million tons of nitrogen oxide and 8.7 trillion (with a "t") tons of carbon dioxide would have been emitted since 1995, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The opposition to nuclear power in general and Yucca Mountain in particular is more ideological than scientific. References to storing "waste" at a "dump" are totally false. As we have noted, the French long ago achieved energy independence by relying on nuclear energy for most of their power needs. But they also lead the world in processing this "waste" to create even more energy.

Jack Spencer, research fellow for nuclear energy policy at the Thomas A. Rowe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, says the "waste" to be stored at Yucca has enough energy to power every U.S. household for a dozen years. Since beginning operations, France’s La Hague plant has safely processed more than 23,000 tons of used fuel — enough to power France for 14 years.

The U.S. pioneered the technology to recapture that energy decades ago, then banned its commercial use in 1977. An energy plan that does not involve continued and even increased use of nuclear power is no plan at all.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, February 28, 2009

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