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Vietnam’s coal demand and emissions hit record highs

Despite being a leader in solar and wind generation in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has seen its coal use and coal plant-related emissions hit all-time highs this year, as authorities promise multinational companies reshoring away from China into Vietnam that there wouldn’t be massive blackouts anymore.

Vietnam’s Coal Demand and Emissions Hit Record Highs

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Coal-fired power reached a record-high 64.6% share of Vietnam’s electricity generation in April this year, according to data from energy think tank Ember cited by Reuters columnist Gavin Maguire.

That’s significantly higher than the average 46% share of coal generation in total power supply in Vietnam last year.

Emissions also hit a record high after rising by 34% year-over-year between January and April, per the data compiled by Ember.

In 2022, Vietnam played a significant role in the growth of renewables in the ASEAN bloc of Southeast Asian nations, accounting for 69% of the region’s solar and wind generation by 2022, according to an Ember analysis from November. Vietnam drove up wind power growth in ASEAN in 2022, while solar’s progress slowed after Vietnam phased out the feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme for solar power in 2022.

Vietnam leads Southeast Asia in share of low-carbon generation, at 42%, primarily from hydropower, which had a 29% share in 2023, per Ember’s data.

“However, as electricity demand more than doubled over the past decade, Viet Nam met this with a doubling of coal generation, which led to a tripling of emissions. Its latest plans will more than double fossil capacity by 2030,” the think tank said last month.

So far this year, Vietnam has nearly doubled its coal imports as it looks to remain an attractive destination for foreign investments now that companies are in a major push to relocate production out of China into nearby countries with low labor costs.

Heatwaves in Southeast Asia in recent months have also driven up power demand in the region, increasing the use of coal in Vietnam and other Asian nations.

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