Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) welcomes Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s recent statement on the need to ‘minimize’ coal power and ‘develop renewable energy,’ and is calling on the Vietnamese government to turn words into action by putting a moratorium on new coal power stations in the Mekong Delta until 2020.

On September 28, at the Hau Giang Investment Promotion Conference PM Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasised “minimizing coal-fired thermal power, especially old-fashioned technology.” He also stated the need to limit the coal-fired thermal power“ in the Mekong Delta, as it would “affect the long-term benefits of the locality.”

“Building new coal power stations in the Mekong Delta would have a devastating impact on one of most spectacular and important eco-systems on the planet,” said Mr. Tran Dinh Sinh, Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) Deputy Director. “Placing an immediate halt on plans for new coal and instead developing clean renewable energy will ensure we have the power we need for our country whilst protecting this precious region for generations to come.”

According to the Revised Power Development plan VII, 14 coal-fired power stations are planned in Bac Lieu, Hau Giang, Long An, Soc Trang, Tien Giang and Tra Vinh provinces. Even using the latest technology, these coal plants still release high levels of toxic air pollutants, coal ash and carbon emissions. Furthermore, according to GreenID analysis, if all 14 plants go ahead, around 70 million cubic meters of cooling water (up to 40 degree in temperature) would be poured into the Delta every day creating a major hazard for fisheries and the sensitive aquatic ecosystem.

VSEA also supports the Prime Minister’s call for development of renewable energy.

“We know that renewable energy has the capacity to power Vietnam and with the right policies in place, it can deliver affordable, safe and clean power,” said Mr. Sinh “It’s essential for us to focus on developing a clean energy plan for the Mekong Delta, consistent with the new integrated master plan for environment, economy and society of this region.”
Around the world, the cost of renewable energy continues to decline at more than 10% per year, meaning that in many countries it is already cheaper than coal. This is particularly the case for countries such as India which have been forced to rely on imported resources. The price of solar has to decline to such an extent in India that coal plants are becoming uneconomic and the government is planning to end coal imports within the next five years.

We see a shift in investor’s interest to make use of Vietnam’s domestic various renewable energy potential including wind and solar PV. Over 10,000MW[1] of large scale solar projects are already registered in Vietnam. Additional potential for household PV systems is not included in this and will look up further private investments. According to a presentation during the Renewable Energy Week in Can Tho there is a business case for household PV systems. This will unlock further private investments and is not included in the 10,000 MW.

“Constructing new coal-fired power stations today locks us into three decades or more of high-cost pollution. We can avoid this by putting an immediate halt to these plans,” said Mr. Sinh. “Vietnam has a major opportunity to stop relying on foreign coal and build our own modern renewable energy system which does not pollute our air, our waterways and our agricultural land. We should make sure we do not miss this chance.”