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Fact Checking: MP Gikaria got it wrong on efficiency of coal production

Parliament’s energy committee last month gave the green light for the construction of the Sh200 billion coal power plant in Lamu despite significant opposition from environmentalists and community members.

The lawmakers said fears the plant will cause environmental disruption were overstated since the facility will “use modern technology borrowed from developed countries that have had successful coal production.”

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“Let’s not be deterred by misinformation about the coal plant project,” Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria told the press.

“We have witnessed countries like America which initially didn’t want anything to do with coal production but with technological advancements, they now have a huge plant in California.”

Mr Gakiria’s assertion is, however, not completely factual. While technology does exist to make coal power plants emit less carbon, that advancement does not completely transform coal power into green energy. Technology also makes production costs more expensive, raising the unit costs for consumers.

The International Energy Association (IEA) last December reported that global coal demand dropped for the second year in a row in 2016, approaching records set in the early 1990s owing to lower gas prices and development of renewables.

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Most developed economies are currently scaling back reliance on coal, with countries like the US, UK, and China that form a significant portion of global demand – switching to cleaner alternatives by as much as 60 per cent in the case of the UK, according to the IEA.

“Sluggish power demand, abundant gas supply, and renewables growth are expected to continue to generate headwinds for coal use and limit the prospects for any resurgence in the construction of new coal power plants in the US,” said the IEA. The Trump administration’s championing of coal and a reopening of the first coal plant since 2011 has so far failed to entice investors as predicted by experts. In Germany, Europe’s largest coal consumer, shifting political will is starting to see a push for the closure of the country’s most polluting plants in line with the global greenhouse gas emission targets.

This means coal production and new investments are on the decline even in the countries where MPs say Kenya will borrow lessons from

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