Coal imports rise to record levels

By Dat Nguyen   July 14, 2020 | 05:25 pm PT
Coal imports rise to record levels
Workers pick out gravel from coal at a coal port in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Vietnam’s coal imports surged to a record high in the first half of the year, showing its rising reliance on coal-fired power plants.

They rose 53.8 percent year-on-year to 31.57 million tons, according to Vietnam Customs. The imports, mostly from Australia, Indonesia and Russia, exceeded local production by 25 percent.

Vietnam turned from a net coal exporter to an importer five years ago as the number of its coal-fired power plants rose to meet the surging power demand from one of the world’s fastest growing large economies. Its GDP growth last year was 7 percent.

Though the government has been seeking to reduce the reliance on coal, and encourages the construction of solar and wind power plants, coal plants accounted for 36.1 percent of the electricity generated last year, according to the Vietnam Energy Association.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has warned of shortages between 2021 and 2025 after construction of new plants fell behind schedule.

In a plan it is drafting, the ministry has ruled out building coal-fired power plants after 2030, when it will prioritize renewables and liquefied natural gas.

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