In Focus
ENVIRONMENT, IPP | Karen Mesina, Vietnam

Eyebrows raised over Vietnam’s vow to quit coal plants

Vietnam has got experts thinking: "Are you serious?".

If China and most of ASEAN are stubbornly sticking to utilising and building coal-fired power plants, Vietnam is slowly backing out of the coal league.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung revealed that the country will stop building coal-fired power plants and shift its focus to gas and renewables to power its electricity grid. He further added in a statement that new energy plans must zero in on protecting the environment and must strictly adhere to "international commitments on cutting emissions."

PM Dung's announcement raised a few eyebrows among industry players and experts as the revelation to quit building coal-fired power plants was in stark contradiction to the country's energy plans outlined in 2015. In the outline, it was noted that the share of coal in the country's fuel and energy mix is predicted to rise from 36% to a whopping 56% in 2030.

According to Nicole Ghio, senior campaign representative at green group, Sierra Club, Vietnam is among the top 30 locations of completed coal power with new capacity of 8,148MW in 2010-2015. It also ranks third worldwide in the amount of coal capacity under construction. "With 40.8GW proposed and another 12.1GW under construction, Vietnam has the largest coal pipeline in the region, and in many ways anchors the dream of expanding coal in southeast Asia. It also may have the most unstable pipeline," she adds.

CoalSwarm adds that although Vietnam’s 13.9GW of coal projects have been cancelled, 14.8GW have been permitted.

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