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The future of Coal-fired power plants in Vietnam

In order to gradually implement Vietnam's commitments towards the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, after 2030, Vietnam will not develop any new thermal power plants. Accordingly, in 2045, the capacity of coal-fired power plants will only be about 13.2% of the total capacity of power plants.


The current situation

Since 2000, coal-fired thermal power sources have been strongly developed both in terms of quantity, size of unit capacity as well as technology. From the 300 MW power unit, the subcritical steam parameters of Pha Lai 2 were put into operation in the 2001-2002 period. By 2020, Vietnam had many 600 MW power units using super steam parameters. The rapid development of coal-fired power plants has helped Vietnam solve the problem of electricity supply for development when economic growth is maintained at a high level, accompanied by an average increase in electricity demand of 11% during the period. 10 years before the Covid-19 pandemic. By the end of 2021, the installed capacity of coal-fired power reached about 24.7 GW, accounting for 32% of the total power capacity of the system [1]. Most of the capacity of existing coal-fired power plants is owned by state-owned corporations such as Electricity of Vietnam - EVN (57%), Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group - PVN (11%) and Vietnam National Coal - Mineral Industries Group - TKV (7%). Coal-fired power plants invested in the form of BOT and IPP account for 16% and 9% of installed capacity, respectively. With stable operation characteristics, independent of natural factors like renewable power sources, the power generated from coal-fired power would account for 46% of the total electricity produced by the power system in 2021 with more than 118 billion kWh [1].



Coal-fired power plants put into operation from 1981 to present:

​Name

Capacity (MW)

Year of commercial operation

Pha Lai 1

440

1983 - 1986

Pha Lai 2

600

2002 - 2003

Na Duong

110

2005

Cao Ngan

110

2007

Cam Pha 1

330

2010

Son Dong

220

2010

Uong Bi (extended)

300

2011

Quang Ninh 1

600

2011

Hai Phong 1

600

2011

Cam Pha 2

330

2011

Mao Khe

440

2012

Uong Bi (extended 2)

330

2013

Nghi Son 1

600

2013

Quang Ninh 2

600

2014

Hai Phong 2

600

2014

Vung Ang 1

1200

2014 - 2015

Vinh Tan 2

1244

2015

Duyen Hai 1

1245

2015

An Khanh

120

2015

Mong Duong 2(BOT)

1242

2015

Duyen Hai 3

1245

2016

Mong Duong 1

1080

2016

Vinh Tan 4

1200

2017

Thai Binh 1

600

2017

Thang Long

620

2018

Vinh Tan 1 (BOT)

1200

2018

Coal-fired power plants in Vietnam are classified based on two main factors: combustion technology and steam parameters. The current operation and maintenance management still has many challenges, such as the regulations on the mandatory maintenance regime are not specific, the maintenance process has not been completed, etc. In recent years, environmental protection for coal-fired power plants has also received more attention and investment. In the period 2000-2015, coal-fired power plants were only allowed to invest in dust and SOx treatment equipment, however, in the period 2015-2020 many factories were invested with additional NOx treatment equipment. Currently, all coal-fired power plants have been installed with electrostatic precipitators (ESP) with dust treatment efficiency of over 99.7%.


In 2019, coal-fired power plants emitted 106 MtCO2, accounting for 84% of total emissions in the power generation sector [2]. In 2021, these factories released about 16 million tons of ash and slag into the environment, mainly in the North (accounting for 64%), while the proportion of the Central region is 25%, the South is 11%.


Specifically, 14 coal power plants of the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) discharged 6.88 million tons of ash and slag, and 6 plants of the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (TKV) emitted 2.46. million tons, 2 factories of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN) emitted 1.55 million tons, 7 BOT thermal power plants emitted about 5 million tons of ash and slag, in 2021. The coal-fired power plant with the largest amount of ash and slag emissions in the country is the Hai Duong BOT Thermal Power Plant, which emits 2.2 million tons to the environment each year. The locality that records the largest amount of ash and slag emissions in the country is Quang Ninh, which emits about 6.7 million tons per year.


Regarding the treatment and consumption of coal-fired slag, according to data from EVN, TKV, PVN, and the investor of 7 BOT thermal power plants, the total amount of ash and slag consumed in 2021 increased significantly, reaching more than 14 million tons, equivalent to 87% of the total amount of coal-fired ash and slag discharged into the environment in the year. Consumption rate of ash and slag from thermal power plants to make construction materials, road levelling materials, and cement production has increased rapidly in recent years after the Prime Minister issued a directive on March 8, 2021, requiring the promotion of processing and using ash and slag as raw materials for the production of building materials (previously, this rate was 50% in 2019 and 60% in 2020).


In addition, the amount of toxic Phosphogypsum residue (GYPS) discharged at coal-fired power plants across the country is almost unsold and must be stored at plants, with a volume of up to 12.35 million tons.


In order to reduce environmental pollution and affect people's lives in the project area, the Ministry of Construction proposed the Prime Minister direct the Ministry of Transport to study and use thermoelectric ash and gypsum as raw materials in construction projects. traffic works, replacing natural materials.



Roadmap towards net zero

Vietnam aims that approximately 50-60% of total electricity generation will be supplied from renewable energy sources by 2050. With this power development program, CO2 emissions are expected to peak at 240 million tons in 2035 and decrease down to 30-35 million tons by 2050, contributing to ensuring the international commitments on "zero" emissions by 2050. The Power Master Plan VIII develops a power development program with the highest goal of ensuring the security of power supply and achieving Net-zero by 2050 with a power source structure as follows:


By 2030: Total capacity of power plants will reach about 121,757-145,989 MW (excluding rooftop solar power, separate load power supply and cogeneration), of which: hydropower will gradually increase from about 21,000 MW at present (30% capacity, 29% production) up to 27,353-28.946 MW (19.8-22.5% capacity, 17.5-17.6% output); coal-fired power plants from about 25,000 MW at present (31% of capacity, 45% of output) to 30,127-36.327 MW (20.6-29.8% of capacity, 30.6-42.5% of output) - this additional capacity is from factories under construction or preparing for investment; renewable energy other than hydroelectricity (wind power, solar power, biomass power, ...) increased from about 17,000 MW at present (about 25% of capacity, 4.5% of output) to 21,871-39,486 MW (18-27% capacity, 11.6-20.2% output) and imported electricity 4,076-5,000 MW (3.3-3.4% capacity, 3.2-4.1% output).


Orientation to 2050: The total capacity of power plants is about 368,461501,608 MW (excluding rooftop solar power, separate load power supply and cogeneration), of which: hydroelectricity 35,571-36,016 MW (7, 5,700 MW). 2-9.7% capacity, 8.6-10.5% output); no more coal-fired thermal power plants; biomass/ammonia conversion coal-fired thermal power 25,632-28,832 MW (5.1-7.8% capacity, 6.1-7.6% output); renewable energy other than hydropower (wind power, solar power, biomass power, ...) 201,836-295,638 MW (54.9-58.9% capacity, 48.2-59.1% output) ; imported electricity 11,042 MW (2.2-3% of capacity; 2.8-3.5% of output).


In order to gradually implement Vietnam's commitments towards the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, after 2030, Vietnam will not develop new thermal power plants and gradually phase out those already operating. years of operation, outdated technology. Accordingly, in 2045, the capacity of coal-fired power plants will only be about 13.2% of the total capacity of power plants.


Currently, Vietnam is also researching and learning new technologies for coal-fired power plants such as clean coal technology (CCT), carbon capture, use and storage technology (CCUS) to ensure the electricity supply for economic development associated with environmental protection and the implementation of the Government's commitments. In addition, Vietnam is also researching and gradually switching fuels from coal to cleaner fuels such as biomass, ammonia to apply when these technologies have been verified and commercialised.


[1] VIETSE (2022), Số liệu được chuyên gia của VIETSE tổng hợp từ các báo cáo của EVN năm 2021.

[2] Cục Biến đổi khí hậu (2021), Nghiên cứu, xây dựng hệ số phát thải (EF) của lưới điện Việt Nam năm 2019.


Source: the Internet





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