Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has announced his government’s intention to “review development plans of all new coal plants and halt any new coal power development.”
According to Solarplaza, the Premier stated that Vietnam needs to “responsibly implement all international commitments in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions; and to accelerate investment in renewable energy.”
The announcement comes in advance of the Solar PV Trade Mission, scheduled April 18 – 22 in Hanoi and Bangkok. It is hoped the trade missions will assemble diverse high-level delegations of stakeholders from around the world into emerging markets to jointly explore and create business development opportunities.
The move away from coal comes from a government with one of the largest pipelines of new coal plants in the world outside of India and China. An estimated 60 GW of new plants are presently under development. The announcement was greeted warily by Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh, Executive Director of GreenID, a Hanoi-based NGO working to promote sustainable energy in Vietnam.
“We welcome the Primer Minister’s commitment to move the country away from coal. However we understand that the revised Power Development Planning VII, due to be released in the coming days, will still have a significant percentage of new coal plants. If the Prime Minister is serious about moving away from coal, we hope that the government will comprehensively reassess all proposed coal plants and put in place policies to rapidly accelerate the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. In addition, all existing and new coal plants should be fitted with pollution controls and higher efficiency standards in line with international best practice”
Vietnam’s government is expected to soon release a revised Power Development Planning VII. The plan is expected to lower electricity demand projections from previous versions to take account of current economic development status, and to lower the percentage of coal in the country’s future energy mix. This plan is also expected to increase the portion of renewables that are part of Vietnam’s energy mix.
Vietnam, China, and India are all focusing on developing more in the way of renewable energy and reducing coal-dependence.
Recent data shows China’s 2015 coal-fired power generation declined by an estimated 4% from the previous year, and Indian coal imports declined by 15% year on year from April-December 2015.
“It is encouraging to see the Vietnamese government’s intention to transition its electricity markets consistent with the strategies currently being implemented by China and India. Energy security is one of the most pressing needs of any country and adding wind, solar and energy efficiency builds domestic energy security,” said Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies, Australasia, at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
“The structural decline of the seaborne thermal coal market is increasingly evident from the trends in China and India. The indication that one of the leading coal developers in Southeast Asia is going to retreat from new coal plants further signals the terminal decline of the global coal industry,” Mr. Buckley concluded.
The Prime Minister had more to say about monitoring coal-fired power plants:
“There is a need to closely monitor environmental issues, especially in stringent monitoring of coal-fired power plants; to review development plan of all coal-fired power plants and halt any new coal power development; to begin replacing coal with natural gas; to responsibly implement all international commitments in cutting down GHG emissions; to accelerate investment in renewable energy, including building market mechanisms, encouraging policies and initiatives, and attract investment for solar and wind energy.”
An assessment shown by the World Resources Institute provides some of these facts:
- According to IEA estimates, global coal consumption reached 7,238 million tons in 2010. China accounted for 46% of consumption, followed by the US at 13%, and India at 9%
- According to WRI estimates, 1,199 new coal-fired plants, with a total installed capacity of 1,401,278 MW, are being proposed globally, spread across 59 countries.
- New coal-fired plants have been proposed in 10 developing countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Laos, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. .
- A total of 483 power companies have proposed new coal-fired plants.
- The “Big Five” Chinese power companies (Datang, Huaneng, Guodian, Huadian, and China Power Investment) are the world’s biggest coal-fired power producers, and are among the top developers of proposed new coal-fired plants.
- State-owned power companies play a dominant role in proposing new coal-fired plant projects in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Czech Republic and many other countries.
- According to IEA estimates, the global coal trade rose by 13.4% in 2010, reaching 1,083 million tons.
Coal-fired power remains a worldwide issue in addressing climate change.
Images: NhaTrang, Vietnam via Shutterstock, prime minister via Solarplaza
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