EARTH Thailand

Vietnam develops coal power despite environmental concerns

VietNamNet Bridge 28 February 2017

While the world strives to use more clean energy, Vietnam focuses on developing coal thermal power.

A report from the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) released in 2015 showed that hydropower accounted for 43.2 percent of installation capacity and made up 34.15 percent of total electricity output. Meanwhile, the figures were 33.7 percent and 34.37 percent, respectively, for coal thermal power.

Under the seventh power development strategy, coal thermopower will play a key role in Vietnam’s energy sector. The electricity output from coal thermopower is expected to account for 49.3 percent by 2020 and 55 percent by 2025. 

By 2030, Vietnam would have 64 coal thermopower plants throughout the country with the total capacity of 55,300 MW which will churn out 304 billion kwh, or 53.2 percent of total electricity output.

Coal thermopower causes pollution to the air, earth and water, and respiratory diseases and cancer. It is the source of spreading toxic substances such as mercury, selenium, arsenic, lead, cadmium and heavy metals. It spreads out ash and acid rain which damage agriculture and fisheries, produces greenhouse gas emissions, and warms the Earth contributing to climate change.

Healthcare organizations estimate that every kwh of coal power costs $0.17 worth of healthcare service.

Coal thermopower makes big contribution to the destruction of the marine environment. It is because coal power plants need large volume of water for their cooling systems. This explains why plants are mostly located near the sea. 

According to CHANGE, a non-government organization, one 500 MW coal power plant in every 3.5 minutes will suck a volume of water big enough to be contained in an Olympic swimming pool (2,500 cubic meters) to cool the system. 

After the cooling, water will be given back to rivers, lakes and the sea with temperature  8-13oC higher, which affects the living environment of aquatic creatures.

The sucking of water into cooling systems will kill fish. In the US, Bayshore coal power plants in Ohio killed 60 million tons of big fish yearly, while at Huntley in New York, 96 million tons of fish were caught each year in its cooling system.

The Hon Cau Marine Protection Area (MPA) in Binh Thuan province, one of 16 programmed MPAs in Vietnam, has been cited by scientists as one of the regions under threat by the Vinh Tan Power Plant nearby.

At present, there is only one coal power plant – Vinh Tan 1 – operational in the region. In the future, there would be four plants there by 2030, under the seventh power strategy.