Thermal Generation and Its Environmental Implications – A Lesson for Ghana

28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2017

Date Written: April 20, 2017


Environmental issues are a major concern for any growing economy, especially amidst growing calls for efficient environmental management systems globally. On the other hand, electricity access is a crucial subject in developing countries, Ghana not excluded. With current posture towards increasing its thermal generation component due to unreliable hydro power supply, there is a high tendency of rising air pollution levels in Ghana as thermal power is generated from fossil fuels.

Access to a clean, efficient and affordable energy source is an essential for any growing economy. Governments which are committed to achieving sustainable development for their countries require an understanding of the complex interplay between the systems of energy delivery and sustainable environments conducive for human habitation. As Ghana intends to rely more on thermal power within the short to medium term, there are implications for an integrated energy planning system that inculcates environmental sustainability. This requires the development and implementation of sound policies and legal frameworks.

This paper assesses the implications of thermal generation on the environment in Ghana, firstly by drawing a comparative analysis of carbon emissions from thermal generation in some selected developing countries. Secondly, the paper compares secondary sourced data on carbon emission levels with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards. Finally, it draws useful lessons for Ghana based on the experience of other countries. The analysis in this paper shows that Ghana’s trend of CO2 emissions from electricity and heat generation far exceeds OSHA’s permissible exposure limit and can be detrimental for human health if this trend continues. The paper recommends that Ghana enacts a Clean Air Act to regulate air emissions and promote high air quality standards. It further recommends that the country diversifies its power generation mix with renewable energy sources.

Keywords: thermal, generation, CO2, pollution, environment, Ghana, lesson, policy, impact

Suggested Citation

Barnor, Bernard and Ahunu, Linda, Thermal Generation and Its Environmental Implications – A Lesson for Ghana (April 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Bernard Barnor

Independent ( email )

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