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Coal-fired thermopower development: which technology for Vietnam?

Energy experts have reassured the public that Vietnam uses advanced technologies in coal-fired thermopower plants, which continue to be the major choice for electricity generation projects.

Vietnam now has 21 operational coal-fired plants
Vietnam now has 21 operational coal-fired plants

According to the Vietnam Energy Association, Vietnam now has 21 operational coal-fired plants.

Of these, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) is running 12 plants, including 10 plants using domestic coal and two using imported coal. All the plants’ reports submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) on possible impact on the environment got approval.

In general, there are three requirements that plants’ owners have to satisfy. First, they have to treat toxic emissions and install electrostatic dust filtration system to prevent impurities from going to the environment.

Second, they have to build coal supply ports and coal supply conveyors to avoid coal loss during transportation. Third, they have to treat ash and slag.

Chair of the Vietnam Energy Association Tran Viet Ngai affirmed that with modern technologies, the plants in Vietnam have utilized the latest technologies, and dust and impurities are prevented from entering the environment.

EVN’s deputy general director Nguyen Tai Anh said all the plants belonging to EVN use high-efficiency electrostatic dust filtration systems.

Anh said that all the plants have industrial waste water treatment systems meeting national standards on environment. The temperature of waste water must be lower than 40oC when it is discharged into the environment.

As for ash and slag treatment, EVN’s plants in the north, including Pha Lai, Uong Bi, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Ninh Binh and Nghi Son 1, have signed contracts with environment service companies on slag treatment. In the south, Vinh Tan 2 and Duyen Hai 1 have also found the outlets for the slag.

According to Truong Duy Nghia, President of the Vietnam Association for Thermal Science and Technology, the technologies used to generate electricity at Vietnam’s thermopower plants are advanced.

However, as coal-fired plants use large amounts of coal, they produce large volume of solid waste, emissions and waste water, which have serious impact on the environment if they cannot be treated.

In the long run, he said, Vietnam needs to apply policies on encouraging recycling of ash and slag into building materials.

Le Van Luc from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) also said that if Vietnam can master technology and choose suitable technologies, it would not have to worry about environmental problems.