INFORMATION AND NETWORKING TECHNOLOGY JOINT STOCK COMPANY (INFONET .,JSC)
A hydropower plant in Lai Chau Province in northern Vietnam that will start running in late 2016. Photo credit: Van Nam/Saigon Times Online
The state-owned Electricity of Vietnam has announced that at least 10 hydropower and thermal power plants will go on stream this year to meet the increasing demand.
A report from the power monopoly said the plants, six of them producing hydropower, would add nearly 3,900 megawatts to the national capacity of around 25,000 MW.
Vietnam depends mostly on hydropower and thermal plants to meet its power demand, which is expected to increase by 7-10 percent every year through 2030.
The former has lost favor as media reports highlight the damage hydropower dams cause to homes and crops in the central region. Water discharge without notice from the dams has proved deadly on several occasions, especially during the flood season.
In 2012 the government reviewed hundreds of existing and planned hydropower plants, mostly medium- and small-sized, and scrapped nearly 420 proposed plants at the end of 2013.
Hydropower plants are also proving to be white elephants since droughts are becoming increasingly severe every year, leaving little water for power generation.
Plants in central and southern Vietnam face a shortage of nearly 1.9 billion cubic meters of water or 36 percent.
A government statement last month said dependence on hydropower would reduce from more than 40 percent at present to 29.5 percent in 2020 and 15.5 percent in 2030.
Other sources of electricity would get priority, especially thermal power, which is expected to contribute 49.3 percent of output in 2020 and 55 percent in 2025, it said.
Vietnam has been scrambling to develop a new network of coal-fired plants.
Figures from the General Statistics Office show that the country imported nearly 2.8 million tons of coal in the first three months of this year, four times more than in the same period last year and very close to the import target set for the whole year.
The trade ministry plans to import nearly 3.2 million tons in 2016, including nearly 1.3 million tons for power generation.
A study released last September said diseases linked to pollution caused by coal-fired power plants kill around 4,300 people in Vietnam each year.
The country has three wind power plants with a total capacity of 54 MW and plans to have 1,000 MW of wind power by 2020.
The country is also working on its first nuclear plant.