Is Obama’s “Power Africa” Simply Enabling Extra Climate Change
Since President Obama’s journey to Africa, attention has continued to deal with energy growth in Tanzania — together petroleum hose reel with the nomination of a White Home insider as U.S. Ambassador.
In his June 30 speech in South Africa, Obama announced the “Power Africa” pledge of $7 billion, with one other $9 billion of personal money over five years to double entry to electricity within the six sub-Saharan international locations of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, in addition to separate offers with Uganda and Mozambique for “accountable” oil and gas development.
“Power Africa” hinges on passage of the “Electrify Africa Act of 2013,” introduced the day after Obama arrived in Africa “to support inexpensive, reliable electricity” growth. Whereas solely a quarter of the area has electricity, the legislation isn’t so benevolent: “Africa’s shopper base of 1,000,000,000 individuals is rapidly growing and can create increasing demand for United States goods, services, and technologies, however the present African electricity deficit limits this growth in demand.”
In other phrases, extra electricity means we will sell them extra iPads and toaster ovens.
But how that electricity is generated depends on whether or not “Energy Africa” is a green know-how chief, or a local weather-change enabler.
One sign was President Obama’s choice to give a second energy speech in Tanzania during a tour of the diesel-powered Ubungo electric plant just lately upgraded by GE and Washington, D.C.-primarily based Symbion Energy.
It begs the question of why, while in South Africa launching “Energy Africa,” Obama didn’t go to the Jasper Photo voltaic Energy Mission being developed by Google and California-based SolarReserve — an organization granted South Africa’s “preferred bidder” standing.
South Africa is growing sustainable vitality sooner than anyplace on the planet, pouring $four.3 billion into solar in 2012 because it shifts from 93 percent coal-fired electricity to forty three percent renewables by 2030. In November, South Africa authorized one other $5.4 billion underneath Spherical 2 of the 5-spherical Renewable Power Impartial Power Producers Program that features eight solar energy plants and seven wind farms.
“Energy Africa” does embrace some renewable power, like Tanzania’s Singida wind farm and Kenya’s Lake Turkana wind venture, each which had been already underneath growth. Aldwych International has dedicated $1.1 billion to the two wind farms, and Harith Common Companions has committed $70 million to Kenya’s Turkana mission.
GE — petroleum hose reel which makes wind turbines and toaster ovens — has also committed to “help develop” petroleum hose reel vitality in Tanzania and Ghana.
But the most important non-public patron of “Power Africa” is billionaire investor Tony Elumelu of Heirs Holdings, pledging $2.5 billion for mainly oil and fuel initiatives. Elumelu’s subsidiary, Transcorp, lately purchased Nigeria’s fuel-powered Ughelli power plant for upgrading by 2017 in partnership with Symbion Energy, proprietor of the ability plant the President went out of his way to tour. Heirs Holdings’ wholly-owned Tenoil Petroleum & Vitality is also developing Nigeria’s oil and gasoline.
Starting to get the picture
In the 2 “Power Africa” speeches, Obama mentions photo voltaic, wind and geothermal power a grand total of none. In fact, the closest he comes is saying investments will embrace “cleaner power.” But, the White House Truth Sheet mentions “current discoveries of oil and gasoline” and “use of natural sources” six instances as enjoying a “crucial role” in “close to-term international energy security.”
Another telling development after the journey that means “Energy Africa” is about extra than just turning on lights for the poor was Obama’s naming of a white, southern lawyer and former lobbyist as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, a nation with a harbor vital for U.S. imports and where Power Africa’s “Big Outcomes Now!” program will focus.
On July 9, the White Home officially nominated Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Workers for Planning, Mark Childress. Known as a “fixer” who expedites policies, the White Home bio of Childress solely briefly mentions his very brief stint from 2005 to 2006 as a lawyer for Australia’s Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, where he negotiated oil royalty deals for the Indigenous people. Interestingly, the nomination got here as Tanzania’s Ministry of Power and Minerals announced the “Vision 2025” initiative for changing unreliable hydro power with gasoline, coal, and renewable energy. Tanzania’s newly found oil and gas reserves, rich coal fields, prospects for uranium mining, and the most important gold reserves in Africa behind South Africa, have also not gone unnoticed by the White House.
If confirmed, one can only hope Childress does not repeat a current climate change gaffe in Liberia where the U.S. Embassy sponsored a July 11 workshop with three U.S. corporations to hype Biomass Gasifier know-how for powering distant areas.
The awkward downside: Biomass gasifier expertise is a double climate change whammy because it burns biomass to manufacture “syngas” which is then sold to be burned again as gasoline, based on the federal government’s own November 2012 Nationwide Renewable Energy Laboratory overview of gasifier expertise. That research stumbled when most corporations “weren’t eager about sharing confidential cost or engineering info,” but NREL did determine that in just making the syngas, a gasifier — like coal-fired energy plants — produces toxic ash that requires disposal. And like every refinery, excess gasoline is routinely routed to flare stacks “for incineration and exhaust to the ambiance.”
The regrettable perception was that the U.S. Embassy helps American firms export climate change to Africa.
President Obama told his African viewers that “Power Africa” will provide “the power wanted to elevate people out of poverty” and “assist clear power to guard our planet and combat climate change.” But the gaping disconnect towards adopting a low-carbon development path continued when he did not acknowledge the 2013 Africa Carbon Forum happening whereas he was in Africa, or Kenya’s progressive feed-in tariff coverage, or Google’s announcement it was investing $12 million in U.S.-based SolarReserve’s South African photo voltaic project.
As an alternative, Obama’s speech was only a variation of four 1/2 years of his lipstick strategy to environmental, energy, and local weather change policies. Like lipstick, you can’t simply slap “clean” or “renewable” on the face of coverage statements that include coal, natural gas, and diesel and hope nobody notices the ugly beneath.
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