Green or grey energy for the Mekong River Delta?
VietNamNet Bridge - The decision to develop a series of thermal power plants in Mekong River Delta has stirred controversy.


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Le Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Institute for Climate Change Studies, said on Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon that the plan to develop thermal power plants, mostly coal-run, in the Mekong River Delta has many problems.

Along the Hau River, from Can Tho City to Hau Giang province and the inlet between the two provinces of Soc Trang and Tra Vinh, around 15 thermal piwer plants have been and will be built under the national 2011-2020 power development program. 

Counting the plants to be put into operation in coming years, the four provinces would generate electricity output of 14,388.5 MW, according to Tuan.

Besides these, there would be many other thermal power plants in Mekong Delta, including those being built in Long An province (Long An 1 and Long An 2, each of which has the capacity of 1,200 MW), Bac Lieu (1,200 MW), and Ca Mau (Ca Mau 1 and Ca Mau 2).

With the high density of thermopower plants, Mekong Delta could face disaster. All coal power plants have boilers which produce big volumes of ash, smoke and harmful gases such as SO2, NOx, CO and evaporate hydrocarbons. 

With the high density of thermopower plants, Mekong Delta could face disaster. All coal power plants have boilers which produce big volumes of ash, smoke and harmful gases such as SO2, NOx, CO and evaporate hydrocarbons. 

Tuan cited a 2015 research work by Harvard University- Burden of disease from coal emissions in South East Asia  More than 25,000 Vietnamese would die every year of pollution to be caused by coal thermal power plants by 2030.

“The world has been gradually giving up thermal power because of its serious consequences. And we can also do the same thing,” Tuan said.

“We have other choices. We can choose green energy for Mekong Delta instead of grey energy,” he said, commenting that Vietnam insists on developing thermal power which has latent risks, and has not paid appropriate attention to developing renewable energy, an abundant source of energy.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Manh Hien, former head of the Energy Institute, pointed out that reducing thermal power won’t be easy in current conditions, emphasizing that coal power remains the cheapest source of electricity, which makes up 50 percent of capacity and electricity output.

The biggest headache for coal power plants now, according to Hien, is the treatment of ash, which is discharged during production.

However, Truong Duy Nghia, chair of the Association of Thermal Science and Technology, said that there was a solution to the problem.

“We can definitely ask construction companies to use bricks made of fly ash,” he said.

Rejecting the view that ash from thermal power plants is hazardous waste, Nghia said ash is used to make building materials.


Thanh Mai
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