Vietnam halts work on massive Chinese solar panel plant

By Ngoc Tuyen, Anh Tu   March 11, 2017 | 10:59 pm PT
Vietnam halts work on massive Chinese solar panel plant
The unfinished solar panel plant invested by Chinese JA Solar in Vietnam's northern province of Bac Giang. Photo by VnExpress
Construction reportedly began in Bac Giang Province without a construction permit or an environmental impact review.

A Chinese investor halted construction on a solar panel factory in northern Vietnam after the government announced that it began without proper approvals.

Authorities in Hanoi suspended the effort after accusing JA Solar Investment (Hong Kong) Limited and authorities in Bac Giang Province of having violated proper construction protocols.

The government issued an investment license for the $273-million project in Bac Giang Province on December 30, but later learned that JA Solar held its groundbreaking ceremony a month prior.

On Friday, Director Nguyen Anh Quyen of Bac Giang's Management Board of Industrial Parks held a press conference in which he claimed that JA Solar had selected the date based on a belief that November 27 was a lucky day.

Quyen admitted he approved the company's actions, accordingly.

Central government investigators later found that the board illegally granted JA Solar permission to build the plant on February 21, well before environmental authorities had completed a review of its environmental impact assessment.

The company submitted the report to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on February 20 and expected approval on May 4.

Quyen told reporters that work will only resume after the environmental assessment process is complete.

Both Quyen and the chairman of the province's People's Committee, Nguyen Van Linh, have apologized for having allowed JA Solar to build the plant without central government approval. The officials further pledged not to permit the project to damage the environment in any way.

Officials hope that the plant, one of the largest projects in the province, will generate more than 3,000 jobs.

JA Solar reported $2.15 billion in revenue, last year, and operates eight solar power product factories in Europe, the U.S. and Japan, according to Vietnam News Agency.

Bac Giang sits roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Hanoi.

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