Vietnam accepts to live with coal thermopower - for now
VietNamNet Bridge - Coal thermal power will have to continue to be used in Vietnam, though it badly affects the environment. Hydropower development has reached a critical point, but nuclear power plants have yet to be deployed and projects to generate electricity with renewable energy are proceeding slowly.  


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At a working session with ambassadors from many countries several days ago, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) said Vietnam aimed to generate 30 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

According to Dang Dinh Thong from the Vietnam Energy Association (VEA), 268 hydropower projects had become operational by 2013 with total capacity of 14,240 MW. 

It is expected that 473 projects would be put into operation by 2017 with total capacity of 21,299 MW, or 82 percent of the potential capacity of hydropower engineering.

As such, most of the large-scale hydropower projects with capacity of over 100 MW, and low investment rate, located in advantageous positions have been exploited. 

Meanwhile, hydropower is no longer favored because of the adverse effects it brings. Large agricultural land areas have been cleared to make room for hydropower plants, while people have had to leave their villages.

Most of the large-scale hydropower projects with capacity of over 100 MW, and low investment rate, located in advantageous positions have been exploited. 

In such conditions, small-scale hydropower plants with capacity of less than 10 MW are believed not to cause a big impact on the environment and society, so they have been encouraged.

However, scientists have pointed out that the potential of Vietnam’s small-scale hydropower are modest, just 4000MW. 

Meanwhile, the investment rate, if considering the 2014 price, is about VND25-30 billion per MW, higher than the investment rate of VND20-25 billion for large-scale hydropower. Therefore, it is not attractive in investors’ eyes.

Vietnam hopes nuclear power would help change its power source structure. The Ninh Thuan nuclear power project, comprising two plants with capacity of over 4000 MW, was approved by the National Assembly in 2009.

The construction of Ninh Thuan 1 Plant was initially planned to begin in 2014, while the first electricity generation unit was designed to operate by 2020. However, project implementation has been delayed.

Meanwhile, renewable energy development has been going very slowly. Only a few projects in Bac Lieu and Ninh Thuan have become operational with total capacity of 100 MW, just accounting for a modest proportion of 0.3 percent of total electricity output.

An analyst commented that MONRE’s plan to have 30 percent of electricity output from renewable energy by 2020 is ‘too ambitious’ and ‘not feasible’.

He also said that raising the total wind power capacity to 1000 MW by 2020 and 6,200 MW by 2030 (if so, windpower would make up 0.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, of total electricity output) was not an easy task.


Mai Thanh
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