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Vietnam coal emissions jump on reduced hydropower supply

Vietnam’s carbon emissions from burning coal have reached all-time highs on the back of increased demand and lower output from Vietnam’s hydropower plants, according to Ember and reported by Reuters. About 64.6 percent of Vietnam’s electricity came from burning coal in April. Conversely, in 2023, on average coal was responsible for about 46 percent of Vietnam’s electricity.

Vietnam committed to being net-zero by 2050 at the 26th Conference of Parties, however, there have been a number of roadblocks. A Just Energy Transition Partnership agreement, for example, signed back in 2022, was touted as the foundation for a move to greener power generation. Leaked British diplomatic cables, however, suggest there is little confidence among the JETP partners.

‘The diplomats complained that Vietnam’s environment ministry —  which led talks with the international donor group — was “politically weak,” and that the final deal did not “reflect the limited engagement and buy-in” from the “sceptical” energy, finance and planning ministries in Hanoi,’ according to Politico.

It’s also worth noting that northern Vietnam experienced multiple blackouts last summer that cost the economy up to US$1.4 billion, according to World Bank estimates. This impacted a number of big name brands manufacturing in the country like Canon and Foxconn and has made new foreign manufacturing firms weary of entering the country. Subsequently, shoring up the power supply has become crucial.

These blackouts, moreover, at the time, were also attributed to a lack of water for hydropower. Hydropower this year, however, has been utilised far less. Just 15 percent of Vietnam’s power came from hydro from January to April of this year, compared to 25 percent for the same period last year.

With this in mind, it looks like coal power generation is being prioritised with hydro to be utilised when coal reaches capacity.

See also: Electricity in Vietnam: Foreign Investor Cheat Sheet 2024


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