Energy transition target not ambitious enough – Dr. Manteaw

The Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG), Dr. Steve Manteaw, has criticized the country’s Energy Transition (ET) plan for failing to outline practical steps to take hold of opportunities which comealong with achieving the net zero goal.

Ghana is aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2070, which is projected to cost an estimated US$561.8billion according to the National Energy Transition Framework.

But Dr. Manteaw, who is also the co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), says while the country’s approach to transition “portrays a business-as-usual attitude”, the 2070 target is not ambitious enough to keep up the country’s race into the future of energy.

To him, a much bigger reason to worry is that the fossil fuel industry in Ghana is not thinking of transition, but rather net zero.

“Without a clear cross-sectorial strategy and action plan, Ghana’s 2070 target will miss a lot of opportunities the transition affords, such as developing our silica sand to become a solar panel hub in Africa.”

He cited the European Union’s taxonomy programme, which discourages investments in fossil fuels but encourages investments in renewable energy technologies, as an example that the country could take advantage of.

Explaining further, he said: “If you are going to move slowly and not position yourself to take advantage of these investments, then by 2070 they will not be available to the country”.

Against this backdrop, he opined that the country needs to hasten moderately; in a way that “we don’t find ourselves in the tail-end of the race”.

On the other hand, Dr. Manteaw – who was speaking in an interview behind a two-day workshop on ET, reckoned that a brisk transition also risks disrupting the national economy – and thus advocated for a moderate or pragmatic approach to the energy transition goal.

The training programme, which was organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), was on the topic ‘Impact of energy transition on domestic resources mobilisation in Ghana’.

Meanwhile, the deputy Director of Renewable and Nuclear Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Robert Bright Mawuko Sogbadji, argues against the assertion that the estimated US$561.8billion cost for net zero emissions is on the high end.

He maintained that other countries within the sub-region, like Nigeria, aim to spend some US$1trillion to achieve their net zero target, making Ghana’s investment relatively lower.

Moreover, he said, the country’s gross domestic product – projected by the International Monetary Fund to grow to some US$88billion by 2027 and US$880billion by 2070 – makes the estimated cost of transition realistic and moderate.

Also, Dr. Sogbadji noted that the current economic challenges are temporary, considering to the time required for the country to realise its energy transition goal; and he’s therefore optimistic about meeting the ET target.

On investments in renewables, he said the last four years have seen some remarkable progress. For instance, the Bui Power Authority has added 50 megawatts of renewable energy sources – which is being expanded to 250 megawatts.

This is in addition to building a 1-megawatt floating solar project that is also being upgraded to 5 megawatts, while the Volta River Authority (VRA) has built solar plants in the Upper West and Upper East Regions.

Explaining the rationale behind the workshop, Senior Economic Analyst at NRGI Dr. Alex Ampaabeng said the media and civil social organisations represent a significant segment of Ghanaian society and are key stakeholders whose views and input are vital in the ET process.

Given the transition has gender and equity dimensions, transparency and corruption risks, he noted that getting the media and CSOs to understand the energy transition and how the country intends to finance it will enable them to play active roles in a just and transparent transition process