Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vietnam's coal plants are a growing concern

Coal Plants Foul Up Vietnam's Miracle Economy

Hanoi, Vietnam (AHN) - Coal and thermal power plants that fire up the Vietnamese economic miracle also poison its air.

"The daily operation of thermal power plants, especially those based on coal, has been contributing to environmental problems and deteriorating air quality and public health due to air emissions, waste generation and inefficiency of plant operation," says Yue-Lang Feng, the Asian Development Bank's principal environment specialist for Southeast Asia.

The environmental problems caused by thermal power plants were partly due to poor equipment maintenance and out-of-date design and technology, according to ADB's environment analysis for Vietnam.

Viet Nam Electricity this year introduced cleaner technology for its new coal-fired power plants. Viet Nam Electricity accounts for 78 percent, or 8,822 megawatts, of total installed capacity, 61 of which comes from thermal power plants that run on coal, oil and gas.

The Agence Franaise de Development (AFD) and ADB on Wednesday announced they will also help Quang Ninh province in northern VietNam address air pollution problems.

Quang Ninh has Vietnam's largest coal reserves, with more than 100,000 people employed by the industry.

The environmental management project, estimated to cost $720,000, will be financed through a $600,000 grant from the AFD to be administered by ADB. The balance will be covered by the government.

The assistance will focus on strengthening the capacity of Viet Nam Electricity in environmental management of thermal power plants.

All these are essential to meet the growing electricity demand.

October 19, 2007 7:37 p.m. EST