Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Energy Department, Pham Manh Thang, talks to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about coal demands for thermal power.
|A view of a thermal power plant in the northern province of Quang Ninh. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha
How much coal will be needed for thermal power plants in the future?
Under the national master plan for electricity from 2011-20 approved last July, the number of coal-power plants will sharply increase, making them a major coal consuming sector in Viet Nam.
Accordingly, by 2020, 46 coal power plants will become operational, consuming up to 77 million tonnes each year. While 25 plants will use about 29 million tonnes of domestic coal, the rest will use imported coal.
By 2030, the number of coal power plants should reach 70 needing more than 160 million tones of fuel a year. However, only 24 of the plants will use local coal, about 31 million tones a year. Viet Nam will need to import the rest, more than 130 million tones.
Must we import coal?
To meet demand for coal in industries, especially for power generation, it's necessary to import coal. Now, the Government has assigned Viet Nam Coal and Mineral Industry Group (Vinacomin) to seek coal providers.
The Government is also preparing to monitor coal imports and exports - and encourage investors to import it.
In addition, the Government also encourages individuals and foreign investors to set up their own coal power plants. It also encourages them to find suppliers and import coal.
A master plan on coal imports is needed and investors should take the initiative to buy coal mines or use foreign partners in long-term coal-supply contracts.
What do you think about coal extraction at the Song Hong (Red River) Delta coal basin which has drawn much attention in terms of environmental impact and food security?
The coal basin is estimated to have a relatively large volume. The Government assigned Vinacomin to identify the volume as the mining scheme must take into account measures to minimise effects to the environment and food security.
To ensure food security, Government has set aside 3.8 million hectares for rice growing. This means that miners must have technical solutions to ensure minimum impacts on food production in the delta.
According to Vinacomin, coal is sold to the electricity sector at a low price, but it should be higher. What do you think?
The price of coal and other fuel for power generation relates to energy policies. To ensure socio-economic development, energy prices must be keep stable. This is a big problem requiring long-term solutions by Government.
The Government needs play a role in keeping prices at a reasonable level. — VNS