Railway coal depot with limestone karst background. Viet Nam, Quảng Ninh, Cẩm Phả. Photo: garycycles8 / Flickr

By David Brown
26 May 2017

(Mongabay) – Shaken by news that Vietnam had confirmed plans to build another 40 gigawatts worth of coal-fired power plants by 2030, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim ad libbed a few lines into a May 2016 speech to an audience of government and business leaders. “If Vietnam goes forward with 40GW of coal, if the entire region implements the coal-based plans right now, I think we are finished,” Kim said. “That would spell disaster for us and our planet.”

The people in Hanoi who make energy policy were very likely startled to learn that what Vietnam does or does not do as it develops its energy sector has world-shaking importance. In a mere quarter century Vietnam has raced from the back of the 3rd World pack to middle-income status. In the process, however, Vietnam’s economic growth has had an outsized environmental impact; between 1991 and 2012, the country’s GDP grew by 315 percent, while its greenhouse gas emissions rose by 937 percent.

Now that China, which took the “capitalist road” a decade earlier than Vietnam, is stepping up to the challenge of climate change and taking bold steps to clean its air, its neighbor Vietnam risks becoming the new pariah polluter. […]

As sites for big hydro were used up, Hanoi’s attention turned to coal.  In 2011, it announced plans to construct 90 new coal-fired power plants by 2025. That forecast has been revised to zero out a plan to build several nuclear power plants and, after Vietnam signed on to the Paris Agreement on CO2 emissions reductions, to promise a substantial role for wind and solar power. However, there’s little doubt that Vietnam will stick to a coal-centered strategy thru 2030 (when coal will supply more than 50 percent of nation’s electric power) and probably beyond.

Coal is relatively abundant in Vietnam. Exploiting fields in the nation’s northeast corner, Vinacomin can produce about 50 million tons of high-BTU coal annually, or roughly 40 percent of estimated demand in 2030. The rest of the coal Vietnam will need then is likely to be lower BTU coal from Indonesia or Australia. Leaving externalities aside, coal is cheap and likely to remain so. Further, provided they like the price they’re offered per kilowatt-hour,investors will front the entire cost of new coal-fired power plants. [more]

Vietnam makes a big push for coal, while pledging to curb emissions



Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews