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Conference hears of health concerns from energy production

Released at: 19:26, 29/09/2015

Conference hears of health concerns from energy production

Experts concerned about coal-fired power plants in Vietnam.

by Minh Tuyet

Vietnam is going against the trend of the world in energy use, Senior Global Campaigner for Coal and Air Pollution at Greenpeace Lauri Myllyvirta told the Conference on Coal and Coal-fired Power Plants: The Unknowns, held in Hanoi on September 29.

Globally, 2014 was the first year renewable energy use grew more than fossil fuel use, Mr. Myllyvirta said. “In the US and the EU, the majority of new generating capacity is powered by renewable energy,” he said. “China’s coal use is falling and all electricity demand growth is being covered by non-fossil sources, mainly renewable energy.” Coal, he stressed, is on the decline globally.

Nguy Thi Khanh, Director of the Green ID and Energy Alliance, an NGO on green development, said that according to Vietnam’s electricity plan from 2011 to 2020 and vision to 2030, known as The Power Master Plan VII, electricity capacity from coal-fired power plants in 2030 will account for 56 per cent of the total, from 46 per cent in 2020. Moreover, electricity output in 2030 will account for 62 per cent from 54 per cent in 2020.

If all projected plants become operational, Asian emissions of SO2 and NOx could triple by 2030, Ph.D. Candidate in the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, Shannon N. Koplitz, said. “Indonesia and Vietnam together account for 67 per cent of this projected increase, as well as an additional 35 million people by 2030,” she said.

Under the circumstances, Mr. Myllyvirta suggested that health impact assessments into planning for power plants and industry be conducted as well as plant-level emission data in real time and annually. He also expected there would be further investment into cleaner energy sources and better emissions control equipment in Vietnam.

Generation sources should be re-assessed in light of the health impacts and societal costs and rapid reductions in the cost of renewable energy. The majority of investment already goes to renewables in China, the US and Europe, he said.

The conference also heard of research conducted in August by the Center for Sustainable Development of Water Resources and Climate Change Adaptation,(Cewarec), a Vietnamese NGO on the impacts of coal-fired power plants in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province on water quality nearby the plant. The results showed that both the surface water and the coastal water near the plant are polluted. Only the groundwater meets the standards set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Despite this, Mr. Myllyvirta and Vietnamese experts remain optimistic that the situation can be improved if the current problems are considered carefully.

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