Vietnam province cuts four hydropower projects out of environmental concerns

By Xuan Ngoc   October 21, 2020 | 02:45 am PT
Vietnam province cuts four hydropower projects out of environmental concerns
A corner of a reservoir of the Ea Krong Rou hydropower plant in Khanh Hoa Province, October 17, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thai An.
The south central Khanh Hoa Province has removed four hydropower plant projects from its planning due to concerns over forest losses.

The four projects are Song Trang with a capacity of five MW, Khanh Thuong with 18 MW, Song Cai with two MW, and Hoa Son with four MW, said Nguyen Tan Tuan, chairman of Khanh Hoa People’s Committee.

The decision to scrap the projects was made following consideration of a proposal by the Department of Industry and Trade to cut small and medium hydropower projects in the area. The removed projects were deemed to provide little economic value while causing great forest loss - around 200 ha per project, said Tuan.

They also have no investors yet, he said.

Khanh Hoa, home to popular beach town Nha Trang, now has three active hydropower plants: Ea Krong Rou with a capacity of 28 MW, Song Giang with 37 MW, and Song Cho 2 with 37 MW. Another plant Song Trang 1 with a capacity of 12 MW is under construction. The active projects have been determined to meet environmental standards, not causing residential flooding or located inside national parks.

Vo Nguyen Phuong Mai, deputy head of the power management division of the province's Department of Industry and Trade, said Khanh Hoa has no more potential for hydropower developments. The economic value of such projects are too small compared to the forest loss.

For every small hydropower plant with a capacity of 1 MW, 7.4 ha of land needs to be reclaimed, Mai said.

Also, hydropower plant projects affect the environment and ecosystem, forcing communities to be evacuated and making connectivity between such projects and the national electric grid difficult. Khanh Hoa rivers are also short and tend to flow through natural forest areas and straight to the sea. If they are interrupted for building hydropower reservoirs they face heightened risks of saltwater intrusion during dry seasons, Mai said.

Khanh Hoa now has around 286,500 ha of forests. But large areas have been destroyed in recent years for production and construction purposes. Deforestation is also an issue, with at least 20 ha of forests being reportedly destroyed in the first nine months of 2020, according to the Forest Protection Department.

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