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Nation NewsPlex Analysis: Coal-fired power plant will choke Kenya

The strongest argument against coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is an environmental one, a NationNewsplex review of pollution data shows.

The planned Lamu coal-power plant would exceed all of Kenya’s existing emissions from fossil fuel plants and would be one of the worst emitters of greenhouse gases in African, according to BankTrack, an organisation that targets private sector commercial banks and the activities they finance.

Electricity generation is responsible for nearly half of global CO2 emissions. Of this, about three-quarters (73 per cent) can be attributed to coal-fired power plants, which emit between 675 and 1,689 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they generate, compared with between 290 and 930 grams for gas-fired power plants, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meta-study on renewable energies. This means that coal plants emit double the amount of CO2 that gas plants do.

Similarly, a solar PV system “emits” between five and 217 grams of CO2 (depending on where the solar panels were manufactured) for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated while a solar CSP system emits between seven and 89 grams. CO2 emission from the least efficient solar plant is seven times lower than the least efficient coal plant.

Geothermal, wind and hydro are the greenest energies. A geothermal plant emits between six and 79 grams, a wind turbine between two and 81 grams, and a hydropower plant 0-43 grams.

25 worst

According to the Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database, the 25 worst CO2 polluting power plants globally all burn coal. These plants are responsible for over 636 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions, the equivalent to South Korea’s yearly fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions. South Korea is the ninth largest emitter of CO2 in the world. Kenya ranks 92 out of 207 countries.

Besides speeding up global warming by filling the atmosphere with vast amounts of carbon dioxide, coal burning leads to acid rain and smog, and emits more than 60 different hazardous air pollutants such as a variety of toxic metals, organic compounds, acid gases, sulphur, nitrogen, and particulate matter. Read the whole article here