Four US senators have urged the African Development Bank( AfDB) to stop financing the proposed Lamu coal power plant in Kenya, saying it risks reversing the gains that the country has achieved as a leader in renewable energy.
In a letter dated 28th May, 2018, addressed to executive director Tariq Al Tashani and seen by CCE NEWS, senators Jeffrey Merkley, Brian Schatz, Bernard Sanders and Edward Markey argue that the Chinese-backed project is financially unsound.
“The project would worsen environmental quality,and result in millions of tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions,” reads the report that was also copied to various executive directors working with AfDB.
The US senators note that Kenya has emerged as clear leader in clean energy in Africa with overwhelming majority of the country’s electricity coming from renewable sources.
“In fact Kenya is home to Africa’s largest geothermal and wind power plants and it will be home to the continents largest solar power plant,” they added.
The senators also argue that Kenya’s ambitious emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement underscore the country’s commitment to a clean energy future.
The senators claim that the development of the Lamu Coal plant would be counterproductive to Kenya’s climate goals and would set back the progress in building a sustainable energy system.
Also in the protest letter, the senators say that the proposed 1,050MW lamu coal power plant will emit as much as 8.8 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, contributing to global climate change thus undermining Kenya’s commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris climate accord.
They also claim that the plant will increase African indebtedness to China and potentially undermine African partners long-term economic health.
“Kenyan experts indicate that by the time the project becomes operation operational, the $2billion project will create unnecessary capacity yet the government will be obligated to pay $360million per year in fixed annual capacity payments whether or not the electricity is ever dispatched,” they protest.
Already, Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has instructed developers of the proposed plant to scale it down.
“We don’t want to put in too much power,” ERC Director of Economic Regulation Frederick Nyang said.