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Vietnam urged to reconsider nuclear power programme

VIETNAM has been urged to reconsider its nuclear power programme as it struggles to meet demand for electricity in the nation.

The recommendations for nuclear energy come as the government gathers public input for its 2021-2030 National Energy Master Plan.

Vietnam Mining Technology Association chairman Tran Xuan Hoa said Vietnam’s energy imports has continued to rise and it was getting harder to find energy sources to meet its socio-economic development goals.

According to a Vn Express news report, he said a restart of the nuclear development program should be included in the national master plan.

This is the first time that Vietnam is working on a comprehensive national energy master plan.

The government plans to incorporate feedback on the draft National Energy Master Plan and submit its final version by the end of this year.

Hoa said Vietnam had in 2016 approved a nuclear power development plan which would build two plants with a designed capacity of 4,000 MW per year in the southern province of Ninh Thuan.

Although work on the plant was set to start the same year, the National Assembly in November 2016, decided to suspend all nuclear development until 2030.

The Assembly said it wanted to allocate money for coal and gas, modernising infrastructure to boost socio-economic development and adapting to climate change.

Nuclear energy is mentioned in the draft master plan released for feedback, but it sees development to begin after 2035.

The draft also sees national nuclear power capacity reaching 1,000 MW by 2040 and 5,000 MW by 2045.

Since 2015, Vietnam has shifted from being a net exporter to a net importer of energy with imports of coal, oil and gas rising steadily since then.

While Vietnam targets extraction of 50 to 56 million tons of coal per year, it has only been able to achieve 45 million tons per year as it has to dig deeper to access the mineral.

Vietnam has spent around US$2.6 billion on importing 36.5 million tons of coal in the first seven months of this year, up 50 percent in volume year-on-year.

Tha nation has met its gas production targets for the year except for liquefied petroleum gas production, which only met 50 per cent of the target.

Production is currently at around 9-10 billion cubic meters, but this is expected to decrease after 2023 when output declines at most oil and gas fields.

Hoa said that as renewable energy prices such as solar power falls, the national master plan should also promote the development of this type of energy over others.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung had said at the Vietnam Energy Summit 2020 in July that Vietnam needs another 5,000 MW in power plant capacity by 2025, which will cost it around US$7 to 10 billion each year.

Vietnam currently relies largely on hydropower and thermal power for its electricity needs, but its hydropower potential is almost fully exploited and oil and gas reserves are running low.

Coal-powered plants accounted for 36.1 per cent of electricity supply last year, followed by hydropower at 30.8 per cent.

Source: New Straits Times