After COP26, Côte d’Ivoire abandons its coal-fired power plant project in San Pedro

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Environmental activist César Kouakou (left, here in December 2019) and planter Dominique Bi Irié tour the plots affected by the old coal factory project near the industrial area of ​​San Pedro which could be replaced by a gas power station.  The planter should lose all his land.

It was one of the last major coal projects in Africa. But the San Pedro plant, in the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire, may never see the light of day. This abandonment should be formalized in an expected document that must be published imminently: the Nationally Determined Contribution (CDN), this non-binding state plan listing future climate actions by 2030 and demanded from all signatory countries. of the Paris Agreement.

The information had already been made public on November 18 during parliamentary debates on the next budget. Questioned on the San Pedro project, the Minister of the Environment Jean-Luc Assi had indicated that the government was giving up the construction of this plant.

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” A very good news “, for the opposition deputy Jean Gervais Tchéidé, member of the committee responsible for environmental issues at the National Assembly, who says he expects more explanations from the government: “Now we have to talk to the people about it and make it more concrete. “

Among the defenders of the environment, some also fear a communication strategy “post-COP26”, the international conference on the climate which was held in Glasgow at the beginning of November. During the event, Minister Jean-Luc Assi spoke of the need for a “Coal withdrawal”, without further details.

“Dangerous for populations”

“There are sentences spoken, but no clear document. The energy ministry must also publish something to reassure us “, claims Ange David Baimey, activist and expert in climate change.

Relentlessly fought for five years by climate activists, the San Pedro project should have seen the light of day in 2024. With a capacity of 700 megawatts, this thermal power station was supposed to supply electricity to the numerous industrial infrastructures of San Pedro as well as much of the Ivory Coast. It should have been built by the Chinese company PowerChina and operated by the Ivorian company S. Energies.

In Kablaké 1 and Kablaké 2 (here, in December 2019), the Ivorian company S. Energies, which was to operate the coal plant, gave school kits and water pumps to residents as part of its project called Broto IPP .

This subsidiary of the Ivorian holding company Snedai ensured that the plant would be “Modern and green”, to the chagrin of environmentalists denouncing a project “From another time” and “Dangerous for populations”. In early 2020, the Minister Mayor of San Pedro, Félix Anoblé, told the World Africa do not want “Block development under the pretext and fear of total protection of the environment”. Its promoters praised a project that was inexpensive for the taxpayer and rich in jobs.

Today, the tone has changed a lot within the authorities. “Coal is no longer part of the energy mix, underlines Gustave Aboua Aboua, Director General of Sustainable Development in the Ministry of the Environment and member of the Ivorian delegation in Glasgow. There was pressure, strong opposition from the energy ministry, but we fought and they understood. “

Solar, wind, geothermal, biomass

To explain this turnaround, the official argues that Côte d’Ivoire does not have the raw material: the charcoal had to be imported from Colombia and South Africa, which represented a significant ecological cost.

“In addition, we do not know how to treat the waste that will impact the area around San Pedro, it is not at all profitable to go down this path., continues the general manager. We prefer to focus on renewable energies: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass. “ The minister announced that he wanted to achieve “45% of the energy mix” thanks to green energies.

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In Glasgow, he also indicated that Côte d’Ivoire now set itself a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by just over 30% by 2030, and not just 28% as announced more early, notably through the removal of black fuel.

Within the ministry, it is assured that the abandonment of coal was decreed before the discovery of vast reserves of oil and natural gas off the Ivorian coast, announced in early September. “Would the commitment to pull out of coal have been made without this oil field?”, asks political scientist Sylvain N’Guessan. With these discoveries, it is easier to move towards energy autonomy. By withdrawing from coal, Côte d’Ivoire is improving its international image and killing two birds with one stone. “

For a gas plant

In addition, despite the repeated desire to develop renewable energies, the decision was taken to replace the coal-fired power station with a gas-fired power station, on the same model as that of the Azito industrial zone in Yopougon.

“It’s almost the same project, indicates a Snedai executive on condition of anonymity, although this latest information has not yet been made public. There will be a power station in the same location, except that it is a combined cycle gas power station. With everything that is happening at the global level, the pressure of COP26, we are moving towards another fuel. The main thing is that we can produce energy while limiting the impact on the environment. “ A power station much less expensive than the previous one, the gas being produced in Côte d’Ivoire.

This new infrastructure could see the light of day in “2025 or 2026”, considers the executive. Before COP26, China had already committed to no longer finance coal projects abroad. The Ivorian State and PowerChina, the Chinese company which was to spend more than one billion euros for the San Pedro plant, “No longer have a firm commitment together”, confirms the head of Snedai, indicating that the group is looking for new partners.

“If the state decides to build a gas plant, it is not good news, over Ange David Baimey. It remains a major source of pollution. “ The fight for environmentalists is not over.

We want to thank the author of this write-up for this outstanding content

After COP26, Côte d’Ivoire abandons its coal-fired power plant project in San Pedro

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