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|The power plant faces ecological concerns regarding fuel source and pollution output, Photo: Le Toan|
In a meeting to collect comments and resolve issues, Deputy Chairman of the Long An People’s Committee Nguyen Van Duoc asked to tighten technology usage for the Long An thermal power centre as well as site clearance. A change of fuel source from coal to natural gas was also put on the table in the meeting.
The power centre will include two power plants that will use coal imported from Australia and Indonesia, in line with the National Master Plan for Power Development for 2011-2020, with a vision to 2030, known as the Master Power Plan VII, which was revised and released in March 2016.
The Mekong Delta-based power centre is expected to be constructed and put into operation by 2024, with a total capacity of 2,800 megawatts (MW) in both plants, supplying about 17.7 gigawatt-hours per year to the national grid – helping to alleviate future pressure in the southern provinces.
Several foreign investors showed interest in participating, evidenced by Daewoo E&C’s pitch for the $2.7 billion build-operate-transfer Long An 1 coal-fired project, and Korea Electric Power Corporation’s plan for the $3.1 billion Long An 2 coal-fired project.
According to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the proposed site for the centre is in Can Giuoc district in Long An, which is the only area in the province accessible to vessels of up to 50,000 tonnes.
Ho Chi Minh City has expressed concerns that air pollution would affect the business hub if this site is chosen, as the location is on the right bank of the Soai Rap River, which is the border between Ho Chi Minh City and Long An.
The MoIT document noted, “MoIT only approves the location as long as it meets all requirements on planning, technology, and environmental solutions.”
Former chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pham Chi Lan warned that such coal-fired power projects must be considered carefully, especially concerning the site for the 1,320MW Long An 1 project, which is just 30-50 kilometres away from Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
Tran Viet Ngai, chairman of the Vietnam Energy Association, said, “There is still potential for hydropower, gas power, and wind power left untapped. We have yet to explore coal in abundance, but the reserves found so far are poor in quality. We will have to import coal if we set up coal-fired power stations, which can consume many resources. So I believe we should first try to run on resources at hand.”
Ngai said that seeking coal sources also remains a headache, as only Australia and Indonesia keep exporting. However, neither source has said anything about whether and for how long they can ensure coal supplies for Vietnam.