Can Vietnam say ‘no’ to coal-fired thermal power?

VietNamNet Bridge - Though coal-fired thermopower causes pollution, it remains a solution to the rapidly rising indeed for power.


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Vietnam is listed among the countries with high potential for hydropower




Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the biggest electricity producer in Vietnam, has warned that Vietnam may lack 4 billion kwh of electricity from hydraulic power in 2019. This will have to be offset by coal-fired thermal power.

Vietnam is listed among the countries with high potential for hydropower. Scientists estimate that the total hydropower capacity is 35,000 MW, of which 60 percent is in the North, 27 percent in the Central region and 13 per cent in the South.

The exploitable capacity is around 26,000 MW, or 970 projects planned, which can produce more than 100 billion kWh annually. These include 800 small projects with a total capacity of 15-20 billion kWh per year.

The exploitable capacity is around 26,000 MW, or 970 projects planned, which can produce more than 100 billion kWh annually. These include 800 small projects with a total capacity of 15-20 billion kWh per year.

Large-scale hydropower projects with the capacity of over 100 MW are being developed. 

Dang Dinh Thong from the Hanoi University of Science & Technology said Vietnam has exploited 90 billion kwh of electricity output out of the potential 100 billion kwh.

The remaining capacity which still cannot be exploited is in small-scale projects in remote and mountainous areas. It is very difficult to connect projects with the national grid because the connection will require very large and costly transmission network.

Hydropower plants have encroached on large forestland area in Vietnam. The country has to accept to ‘sacrifice’ 9.8 hectares to obtain 1 MW of electricity capacity, a high ratio in the world. 

Meanwhile, hydropower plants’ operation heavily depends on weather conditions. In the Central region and Central Highlands, for example, the water level in reservoirs drop nearly to the dead water level, which causes difficulties for production. 

Coal-fired thermopower 

EVN’s deputy CEO Dinh Quang Tri warned that the electricity shortage after 2020 is visible as very few new power plants are expected to become operational in the time to come.

Ngo Thuy Quynh from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) said the ministry is programming the development of LNG-run thermopower which will replace coal-fired plants.

However, only 45 percent of demand can be satisfied by domestic sources, while the other 55 percent must be fed by imports, which means that Vietnam would be influenced by LNG price fluctuations, while it needs to invest in seaports, transmission lines and storehouses.

Nguyen Canh Nam from the Vietnam Energy Association said that in Vietnam’s conditions, coal-fired power is still a necessary choice. 

“We still need coal if considering technical and economic factors, domestic coal reserves, coal import capability and greenhouse glass emissions,” he said.


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Mai Lan

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