We should rethink the Lamu Coal Power Station situation

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Since we are now on Wikipedia should we call it a gone ‘Save Lamu’ scenario? After reading one article that wholly supports the project, claimingKenya is not in a position to choose between renewable and non-renewable sources of energy like few European countries such as Germany and Netherlands because of its constant energy needs and is an economy that needs development,” I am still disturbed by the utter ignorance. Somehow, it has been agreed that it is okay for us to put up a coal power plant that will definitely have both human and environmental negative effects for a long time. Most of us who do not live in Lamu or have never been there will not know the effects of the power plant. So, for future generations, we have accepted it today that it is okay for the government to do what they do. We live and move on. All I see in this project is greed. Nothing else but greed, especially, from one political figure as stated who fully supports this project.

Are we exaggerating this project as concerned parties?

We do understand why Kenya needs more energy sources. But we do not understand why we cannot invest more in renewable sources of energy. Goal 11 of the Sustainability Development Goals calls for Sustainable Cities and Communities. Though this goal majorly focuses on urban areas and Lamu not being an urban area, there is still Lamu town. Let us call this the urban area for Lamu. One of the targets in this goal is “Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”. Lamu is a historical and cultural zone and UNESCO has classified Lamu Old Town among the World Heritage Centres. Clearly, it’s okay for Lamu to be filled with black soot.

We are side-lining the issue of Climate Change. Especially for people who do understand the impacts of non-renewable sources of energy but choose to ignore the facts. This has led to a misunderstanding among our members of parliament.

Renewable energy has reduced in cost across the world. Technology has been developed to be able to tap into this growing and future market. Companies all across the world are going green installing solar panels on their buildings. China itself is investing in solar energy power stations to feed into the power grid. The country now has the largest solar farm in the world with a capacity of 850 megawatts (MW).

China’s Panda Shaped Solar Power Station © UNDP

Why can we not invest in tidal wave energy in the coast instead of coal mining? Instead of mining the coal in Kitui, why not invest in the abundance of solar energy in the area. Why do we still think we cannot be able to power the country with what we have already been given that is clean and constant.

As we are set to build a 981.5MW coal-fired thermal electricity – generating plant in the Manda Bay area, Lamu County why are we still talking about a source of energy that countries are seeking to divest from coal as a source of energy.

We have vast green energy potential but we still insist on constructing a coal power plant with a design life of 30 years and an operating life of up to 50 years costing taxpayers KES 205 billion shillings. To make it more interesting, we will be importing this coal from South Africa for up to 10 years before the government constructs a 350km rail line is constructed from coal-producing Kitui County to Lamu.

Well, if you were born, raised and faced all the nonsense in this country, you already know this rail will take forever to build and if at all it is built a number of people will have very luxurious lives as the rich continue to get richer and the poor remain poorer. But in reality, it is only good for a few pockets and families in this country. I’m not one of them because if I were I wouldn’t speak about this. So we are left with a bunch of powerful families who know the dangers but because they will benefit wholesomely from coal mining they choose to keep silent.

The irony of all this is China. As the country has the largest solar power plant as of today, instead of borrowing from such green and beautiful panda shaped solar technology, we want to borrow their Coal Power plant technology. These guys are even financing this project through the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Even though China still remains the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, the countries energy grid dependence on coal has dropped since 2014.

Why can we not have solar farms on people’s farms in Kitui or any other solar potential county shaped as an elephant and pay the solar farmers for accepting to support the government? But maybe I am way over my head and do not understand the economics in all this. Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer. But then again, as we continue to wallow in debt, coal will only make things worse. Will it take 50 years for a revolution to happen in this country or can it happen now today?

Kenya’s Green Energy Potential as per the Ministry of Energy; is 10,000MW of geothermal power, 3,000MW of wind capacity and with limitless sunshine who knows how much we can get on this. Instead of exploiting such green sources we choose to spend billions on other projects that are very limited in time and space.

Even though is 100 – 500 or more years what we do today may actually not be important. Even though what we do today, will not matter when evolution does happen. I believe it is important to live better and meaningful lives now. We can choose to make a positive difference in the people who will remember us in our lifetime. Everyone who is seeking to protect the environment now should not be discouraged by decisions made by our governments. We should still fight against social oppression, corruption, environmental disregard among many other societal ills. We do not live in a utopic world but we can accept our challenges and when Plan ‘A’ does not work, we still have Plan ‘B’ to Plan ‘Z’ to work with. Our impacts, actions and what we do not do eventually shape our beautiful blue planet. Whether the planet will forever be beautiful, nature decides in the end. She has always decided. We still remain hopeful.


Why we should all save Lamu

Advocating for clean energy

Why we should fire the coal ambition

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Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to nyikasilika@gmail.com.

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