Vietnam urged to stop building new coal-fired power plants

A halt to investment in new coal-fired power plants is required to check the trend of increasing coal consumption, a report warns.

The report, released on Monday by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in collaboration with Denmark’s Energy Agency, said the country needs early action to reduce future coal demand, which could include taxation on the use of coal or limits on new coal-based power generation.

Vietnam’s coal imports could triple between now and 2030 as demand for power rises in lockstep with a rapidly growing economy, Jakob Stenby Lundsager, an adviser in Vietnam to the Danish Energy Partnership, said at the release of the Vietnam Energy Outlook Report 2019.

The figure would rise eight times by 2050, meaning three-fourths of Vietnam’s energy needs would depend on imports, he said.

Renewable energy could account for 10 percent of total supply by 2030 and 20 percent by 2050, but the country needs to invest in expanding its grid and transmission to absorb the new supply, he said.

The report noted liquefied natural gas could be used instead of coal in the power sector through at a higher cost, but it would cause less pollution.

Vietnam became a net importer of coal in 2015 and imports have been rising to meet electricity needs.

Imports cost $2.27 billion last year, up 71.6 percent year-on-year, with coal bought mostly from Indonesia, Australia and Russia, according to the trade ministry.

Since power shortages are expected from 2021, the country might need to import 3.6 billion kilowatt-hours of power in 2021 and 9 billion kWh in 2023 from Laos and China to meet demand, the ministry had said in July.

The World Bank has estimated that Vietnam needs $150 billion for energy sector development by 2030, with electricity demand growing by 8 percent a year in the next decade.


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