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Coal remains indispensable to Vietnam power needs: Deputy PM

By Nguyen Hoai   December 12, 2018 | 11:34 pm PT
Coal remains indispensable to Vietnam power needs: Deputy PM
Vietnam Electricity employees check electric cables in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Vietnam has no alternative energy source in the medium term to replace coal for power generation, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said.

Speaking at a meeting Wednesday he said since there are currently no effective alternatives, "coal power must be developed with modern and environment-friendly technologies." 

Dung warned that if Vietnam does not resolve its coal shortage, it could face a power shortage right from this year.

Total electricity production next year is estimated at 232.5 billion kilowatt hours, with coal power plants accounting for exactly half, and requiring 13 million tons of coal.

"Under all circumstances and at all costs, Vietnam must provide enough electricity to the economy," Dung said.

He ordered the Ministry of Industry and Trade to quickly draft a plan for consumption of local and imported coal.

Dung instructed the country’s two coal suppliers, Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Corporation (Vinacomin) and the North-Eastern Company (NECO), to sign coal purchase contracts next year.

Data from EVN shows demand for electricity this month is 18.89 billion kilowatt hours. To meet this, the country’s thermal power plants need to operate at their maximum capacity of 10.47 billion kilowatt hours.

Vinacomin and NECO have supplied 20.5 million tons of coal to power plants this year, or only 89 percent of the contracted volumes, with Vinacomin accounting for 16.2 million tons.

But Vietnam faces a coal shortage. EVN warned at the end of last month that the lack of coal might lead to a shutdown of thermal power plants and it might have to resort to load-shedding next year.

Several power plants in the north have shut down their turbines since mid-November or reduced their operations to a minimum.

EVN also said it might have to raise electricity prices next year because of higher coal prices to produce enough power.

Vietnam currently relies mostly on hydropower and thermal power. But its hydropower potential can only meet 30 percent of demand and is almost fully exploited. The country’s oil and gas reserves are running low.

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