Home Business Nigeria Retreats To Coal While Rest Of The World Moves On

Nigeria Retreats To Coal While Rest Of The World Moves On


(Sundiata Post) – A new report by the International Energy Association, (IEA) a Paris-based energy sector think tank, shows that global coal production fell by 458 million tonnes in 2016, but Nigeria is incentivising coal producers, putting coal top on a list of industries to be granted pioneer status.
The IEA’s World Energy Balances shows that coal production fell sharply in the world’s biggest producer, China, by 9 per cent or 320 million tonnes, which is more than the total production from South Africa, the world’s fifth largest coal exporter. Coal production also fell elsewhere, such as the US and Australia.
“One reason why production fell in China was lower demand, particularly for power generation, though China still uses half the world’s coal. Lower coal demand has also been seen across the OECD, specifically in the US and the UK. So globally, despite an increase in India, global coal consumption in 2016 fell by around 2% in energy terms,” the IEA said in its report.
However, Nigeria, a country that is issuing N150billion worth of green bonds, has granted pioneer status to industries producing coal, responsible for about 10 per cent of human-made methane emissions worldwide, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Coal, made up of 65-95% carbon, while also containing traces of hydrogen, sulphur, oxygen and nitrogen, is considered as dirty fuel. Carbon is present in the air, as carbon dioxide and contributes to the “greenhouse effect” and related global warming.
With power supply barely at 4,000 MW, Nigeria is desperate to ramp up electricity but there are no significant efforts at addressing any fallout from increased coal production.
BusinessDay sought the views of officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment, who say they have no policy to deal with coal production. “At the moment we do not have any policy about that,” said an official without authorisation to speak officially.
There are also over 22 redundant coal mines around Nigeria, four of which were fully developed coal mines. Abiodun Baiyewu, executive director at Global Rights Nigeria, said that while the benefits of the coal mines were largely economical and immediate, it also had negative and long term effects, especially on the environment.
“These effects are particularly compounded by the failure of the government to reclaim most of these mines, especially those abandoned during the civil war,” she said.
Enugu State has some of the worst erosion in Nigeria, attributed to unreclaimed mines and unregulated artisanal mining at abandoned mine sites throughout the state.
A study by the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, on the effects of mine drainage on water bodies, specifically looking at coal mining in Enugu, concluded that “the quality of the water is significantly influenced by acidic mine drainage and its impact on human health could be severe.”
Experts say Nigeria will be better served diverting attention to renewable energies. “I will say we should focus on renewables and natural gas for energy generation,” said a co-founder of Gridless Africa, a clean energy and sustainable development think tank.
However, there are arguments that other countries are yet to decommission their own coal plants. Coal production in the US was estimated at 16.1 million st in the week ended July 29, up 4.4% from the prior week and up 13.1% from the year-ago week, according to US Energy Information Administration data.
US President, Donald Trump, spurned the Paris Agreement and lifted ban the on new coal leases on public lands. This has spurred investments in coal.
James Taylor, president of the Spark of Freedom Foundation, which focuses on energy and sustainability issues, told Forbes that China is financing the construction of a growing number of coal power plants in foreign nations, building a future market for more Chinese coal exports.
With Chinese citizens demanding cleaner air to alleviate heavy air pollution, Chinese coal consumption has been declining since 2014. Taylor says that the country is propping up its coal industry by financing more foreign coal plants and exporting more coal to operate them. Particularly in the growing Asian energy market, U.S. coal producers have a difficult time outcompeting Chinese coal on its Asian home turf.
Coal is found in Nigeria, in the Middle belt and South-eastern regions of the country, in Kogi, Benue, Gombe and Enugu states, with estimates put at nearly 3billion tons of indicated reserves in 17 identified coal fields and over 600 million tonnes of proven reserves.
The move away from coal generation is most clear within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where electricity generation from gas in 2016 was virtually equal to coal generation for the first time ever. (BusinessDay)

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