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Scientists recommend fewer coal power plants

Vietnam Scientists are concerned that coal power plants would still provide 50 percent of the nation’s total electricity output in the future.

A coal railway terminal in Quang Ninh, Vietnam with Qarst limestone formations in the background. Photo by garycycles8, Flickr, 12 August 2013.

By VietNamNet Bridge

Ho Chi Minh City, May 23, 2016

VietnamNet

Vietnamese state agencies have been insisting on the necessity of continued development of coal power plants, affirming that this is the best solution for Vietnam as coal power is cheaper than wind and nuclear power.

However, scientists have argued that coal power is not as cheap as thought, saying that the price Vietnam has to pay for coal power would be very high if counting all the expenses related to social and environment problems.

Nguyen Thu Trang, a coordinator of VSEA (Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance), said in the future, coal power plants would still make up 50 percent of the nation’s total electricity output, and this has raised big concerns about waste sources from the plants, which would cause air and water pollution, and a negative impact on people’s health and living organisms near the plants.

Trang rejected the view that coal power is cheaper than other power sources, saying this is based on only the cost to run coal power plants, and does not include expenses for social and environmental problems.

Scientists are concerned that coal power plants would still provide 50 percent of the nation’s total electricity output in the future.
A source from the Vietnam Energy Institute said the nation’s power development plan for 2011-2020 (Plan 7) was amended after the Prime Minister requested to gradually reduce the coal power proportion and replace fossil fuel-run plants with recycled energy.

With the latest amendment, Vietnam aims to increase the recycling energy proportion to 38 percent of total electricity output by 2020.

According to Trang from VSEA, there are now 19 coal power plants in Vietnam, while the figure would be 52 by 2030. To run the plants, Vietnam would have to import 85 million tons of coal every year.

“We can foresee the big influence of coal power plants on humans and the environment, but we still have decided to develop coal thermal power. Is this the right way for development?” she said.

According to Aviva Imhof from the European Climate Fund (ECF), Vietnam is among the countries which bears highest impact from climate change and it has committed not to let the temperature increase by more than 1.5 oC.

To curb the temperature increase, it is necessary to apply measures to ensure that power plants can reduce carbon emissions by 2050.

In order to do so, the development of coal power plants should be restricted.

The coal power plants now under operation in Vietnam have total capacity of 20 GW. The figure would be 40 GW after other plants now under construction are put into operation.

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