Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ghana Considers Nuclear, AEHI Responds to SEC

accra Ghana’s turn:

The Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof Yaw Serfor-Armah, has given the assurance that Ghana will continue to promote the peaceful applications of nuclear techniques and biotechnology for the sustainable development of the country in particular and Africa in general.

That’s always good to hear, though it seems unlikely anyone doubted Ghana’s intentions. This was said at a summit hosted by GAEC and the IAEA in Accra, as the country gears up to build its first plant, scheduled to open in 2018.

Ghana? Although the government has implemented a plan to move its economy to a point that it can sustain a middle class by 2015, right now it is quite poor, with a per capita annual salary of about $700. But if Ghana succeeds in creating a middle class – and even if it doesn’t - it will certainly need more electricity.

The high dependency on rain-fed hydro power, which accounts for 65% of installed capacity has led short falls in electricity supply in case of drought.

More than just “in case of”:

In 2006 and 2007, the nation experienced its third and worst major energy crisis as result of [drought].

So nuclear energy is a way to feed a growing demand for electricity, to spell a hydro system that buckles under drought, and to maintain a positive profile on carbon emissions. (Interestingly, the IAEA report from which I borrowed the above details, recommends a small reactor for Ghana so as not to stress the electricity grid.)

So it seems a reasonable pursuit and Ghana is pursuing it. Time feels a little short for flipping the switch on a plant by 2018, but let’s see what happens.

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Not that there are not reasons for Ghanese to worry if they’re so inclined:

Personally, I wonder what America would do if Ghana ever pursues nuclear energy. Would America sanction Ghana, or would she plan an attack?

This writer is afraid the U.S. would treat Ghana like Iran. That seems highly unlikely – Ghana is in good standing at the IAEA – but it suggests some of the concerns that can gain currency on the affected side of the planet.

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A couple of weeks ago, the Securities & Exchange Commission accused Advanced Energy Holdings, Inc. (AEHI) of fraud. You can read the previous post on this news here. As you might expect, AEHI believes it has done nothing wrong:

"They're wrong about the pump. They're wrong about the dump," said AEHI's attorney Richard Roth. "And it's not even... this is not a close call. It's not as if they're right about something. There are no allegations that I've seen in the complaint or the motion that are accurate."

The reference to “pump” and “dump” is to the alleged scheme to raise money to build a new plant in Idaho (the “pump”) and use the proceeds to enrich themselves through the sale of stock (that would be the “dump,” with the shares as the dumped).

As for the alleged stock dumping, AEHI's attorneys say the two people in question did give the CEO money they got from selling stocks, but it wasn't a funneling scheme.

There’s an explanation for this, which you can read at the link. The point here isn’t to make a case for AEHI, which can take care of itself, but to indicate that making an accusation, as the SEC did, is only a first step. AEHI’s response is the second. There will be many more steps to come. Only at the end of them will we know what, if anything, AEHI may have done wrong.

At the crossroads in Accra.

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