Vietnam Plans Move Away From Coal

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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.”

Vietnam prime minister
Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Prime Minister of Vietnam

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 shutterstock_212550220Vietnam’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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6 thoughts on “Vietnam Plans Move Away From Coal

  • It’s too late to stop the coal plants under construction, but a halt go new ones looks doable, even in India.

    • Why not keep up pressure on Vietnam to join its neighbors in avoiding the pollution and smog problems of coal and the stigma of being a more backward nation than India and China in global warming.
      Vietnam has good natural renewables resources, but has a tepid plan for developing them so far. No excuses.

  • I am glad to see the government has included energy efficiency in the discussion. If you do not educate your population to reduce energy demand by using more efficient appliances and vehicles,increasing supply is just a waste of investment. Compare appliances by energy efficiency at

  • “and Indian coal imports declined by 15% year on year from April-December 2015.”

    This does not say much about total coal consumption in India. It also has its’ own coal reserves.

    • it is more damaging to the environmetn to export coal from a foreign country,because TRANSPORTATION
      Besides,Big Coal from America and Australia are going to lose money

      • Actually, that’s not nestle celery the case. Lower quality coal is more CO2 intensive to generate electricity with than higher qualiity coal and Indian coal tends to be low quality. Australian coal tends to be higher in quality and lower in sulphur. So it may be less environmentally damaging for India to import at least some coal rather than just use domestic supplies. But that’s not exactly a message an Indian politician is likely to want to get behind. And India has never imported a significant amount of Australian coal anyway, instead preferring lower quality but cheaper Indonesian and South African coal.

        And just to be clear, the world is far better off not using coal than just swapping low quality coal for higher quality coal. Using higher quality coal helps, but so does putting a playing card over the barrel of the gun to cushion the bullet impact when playing Russian roulette. Far better not to play at all.

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