Vietnam’s Fast-Growing Economy Signals Need To Expand Coal Sector

Plant in Vietnam
Labourers work at Ford Vietnam car factory in Hai Duong, Vietnam April 12, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Kham)

Bullish forecasts on Vietnam's fast-expanding economy until 2030 has driven the government to find ways to boost the coal sector as it is expected that the country will see increased demand for energy.

A joint report by the Danish Energy Agency and the Vietnamese government, titled Vietnam Energy Outlook Report 2017, suggested that demand for electricity in the country will grow by eight percent year-on-year until 2035. This has opened discussions on ways to boost coal businesses.

According to Vietnam Insider, coal share saw a hike of 14 percent to 35 percent of the country's total energy supply from 2000 to 2015. Analysts pointed out that these figures indicate substantial use of coal in the country.

With the economy predicted to grow within the ranges of 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent annually until 2030, industry analysts are expecting to see increased coal usage in Vietnam in the near future. It is also expected that coal will be integrated further into energy mixes in the coming years.

To help address the need for more energy, the Vietnamese government has planned expansion of 32 coal-fired plants by next year. For long-term expansion, the government is planning to increase the number of plants at 51 by the year 2030.

While Vietnam is aimed at increasing coal usage by the next 10 years, it has also announced plans to set up four gas-fired energy plants. Last month, the Ninh Thuan provincial government announced its meeting with Thailand's Gulf Energy Development over the said project.

While Gulf Energy has yet to confirm the reported collaboration, Vietnam's deputy minister of Industry and Trade expressed eagerness for the project that could cut the country's coal use. "This LNG project will help replace some of the existing coal-fired power. We will definitely need to import LNG for these new plants," he said.

If the joint venture with Thailand pushes through, Vietnam will join piling Asian ranks of countries that provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) not just domestically but all over the world.

Meanwhile, energy sector specialists recommended that Vietnam should focus on exploring renewable energy sources to supply the increasing demand for power and electricity. Plans for increased coal use have been stepped up but there is also a huge need to increase renewable energy usage.

CEO of Trung Nam Group, Nguyen Tam Tien, said during the weekend's international conference on renewable energy that "Vietnam's long-term energy strategy" will largely involve wind and solar power. He said the generation of renewable power has increased significantly over the past few years.

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