Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, has announced plans to drop coal from the country’s future energy plans. If confirmed, the plans would effectively shelve the equivalent of 70 large coal-fired power plants in the country. It would also be a set back for those in the coal industry hoping southeast Asian demand would compensate for flagging consumption in other parts of the region – notably, China.
According to RenewEconomy, a website that tracks clean energy and news, Prime Minister Nguyan Tan Dung said in a statement that “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.”
Vietnam has the biggest pipeline of new coal-fired power development in southeast Asia with 44 GW in planned capacity on top of 17 GW under construction, according to Greenpeace. Some of these projects will not be converted to gas, while measures will also be put in place to create a better investment environment for wind and solar.
“Vietnam’s decision is the Paris Agreement in action,” said Arif Fiyanto, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Coal Campaigner. “With a clear steer towards renewable energy, it sets a benchmark for countries across the region to follow.”
Long an exporter of coal, Vietnam recently became a coal importer on the back of new coal-fired power developments. In November, Platts reported that Vinacomin, Vietnam’s state-owned coal company, planned to import 1.5 – 2 million t of coal in 2016 from about 0.5 million t in 2015. Vinacomin’s imports were then expected to grow to 10 million t by 2020, accounting for about half of Vietnam’s coal imports.
Vietnam import 5.045 million t in the first ten months of 2015, according to Platts, more than double the amount from the year before with most coming from Indonesia, China and Australia.
Edited by Jonathan Rowland.
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