Coal thermal power plants affecting rice production in Mekong Delta
VietNamNet Bridge - Under the national electricity development plan, coal thermal power will make up 50 percent of Vietnam’s total electricity output from 2020. The Mekong River Delta will become one of the nation’s thermal power centers.


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Nguy Thi Khanh, managing director of GreenID which represents the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Coalition, has warned that the thermal power production will bring risks and challenges.

Vietnam will have to import coal, which means that it will depend on the world prices.

It will also have to face social and environmental challenges, including water and air pollution. The plants would also lead to a higher unemployment rate. 

Thermal power plants are not welcomed in many countries because it is not clean energy. Toxic gases are produced during the process of burning coal to run the plants, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2) and fine dust which are harmful to human health.

Under the national electricity development plan, coal thermal power will make up 50 percent of Vietnam’s total electricity output from 2020. The Mekong River Delta will become one of the nation’s thermal power centers.
GreenID’s surveys conducted in the areas near coal power plants in Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Thai Binh, Ha Tinh, Tra Vinh and Binh Thuan all showed that local people complain about the degradation of the water and air quality in the areas. 

More importantly, experts warned, the development of these plants in the Mekong Delta will threaten the area as it is the nation’s rice granary.

It is expected that 14 coal plants would be developed in the region by 2030 which would have total capacity of 18,268 MW. There would be four in Tra Vinh, one in Bac Lieu, two in Hau Giang, two in Long An, three in Soc Trang and two in Tien Giang.

Scientists estimate that 4,163 liters of water are needed to produce 1 MWH of electricity. The volume of water the Long An 1 Power Plant consumed within one day is three times higher than the volume of clean water provided to the entire city of Hanoi.

Therefore, once all the power plants become operational, they will cause negative consequences to the environment, adversely affect water sources, and reduce the rice field areas and rice productivity in Mekong Delta.

Regarding air pollution, Khanh cited a research work by Harvard University in 2015 as saying that if all the thermal power plants mentioned in the seventh national electricity development plan become operational, they will cause serious problems in the delta.

Reports show that the emissions from the plants account for 89 percent of total emissions from the energy sector. 

Khanh has called on to remove the thermal power projects which have adverse effects on the environment and lack high efficiency. The country should increase power production from renewable energy, he said. 


Mai Thanh

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