Vietnam opens last hydro plants

19 April 2016, Week 15, Issue 353

Six new hydro projects will go into operation in Vietnam this year, along with four new coal-fired thermal power plants (TPPs), adding 3,900 MW of capacity, reports said.

The additional hydro systems were commissioned before the government adopted a plan to reduce Vietnam’s dependency on hydro because of haphazard supply during dry periods.

“In 2012 the government reviewed hundreds of existing and planned hydropower plants [HPPs], mostly medium- and small-sized, and scrapped nearly 420 proposed plants at the end of 2013,” Thanh Nien newspaper said.

“Hydropower plants are proving to be white elephants since droughts are becoming increasingly severe every year, leaving little water for power generation.”

Hydro still fuels one-third of Vietnam’s capacity, estimated at 35,000-40,000 MW, but this is due to be cut to 20% by 2035. Coal will fill the void along with natural gas and renewable systems, the state development has said.

Coal’s contribution to capacity has already grown to 36% of the national energy mix, and will expand further to 46% by 2020, state-owned power company Electricity Vietnam (EVN) said.

The sharp growth in coal-fuelled plants has left the country’s state-run coal industry unable to meet demand and imports are growing fast.

In the first quarter of this year the import tally was 2.8 million tonnes, said Thanh Nien quoting the national statistics office. That is four times higher than in the same period one year ago and close to the original planned import target for the whole of 2016. The trade ministry has targeted approving imports for this year of 3.2 million tonnes, Thanh Nien said.

Vietnam added 3,400 MW of new coal-fuelled power capacity in 2015 and this will consume 10 million tonnes in 2016, EVN was quoted by China’s Fenwei Energy analysts as forecasting. Planned imports in the second quarter by state coal National Coal Mineral Industries Corp., known as Vinacomin, will include 500,000 tonnes of high calorific coal from Australia and Russia, Fenwei said. v

Edited by

Richard Lockhart


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