Tag: Hydropower and energy

Laos continues building hydropower dam in Mekong River

Laos is continuing to build Don Sahong dam in the mainstream Mekong River regardless of objections and consultation requests from neighboring countries, the International Rivers Network said in a statement.

Read more →

Mekong hydropower dams: Laos considering, Vietnam needs “quick reactions”

Laos promises to consult with experts and consider the construction of hydropower dams on Mekong River is the good news for Vietnam. However, scientists say Vietnam needs to act promptly to take full advantage of its opportunities.

Read more →

NGOs Calls for Cancellation of Dams on the Mainstream Mekong River

On the occasion of the 2nd Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit, on 3rd April 2014, the Save the Mekong Coalition (StM) sent a letter to four Prime Ministers of MRC member states to express their concerns over impacts of existing and planned hydropower projects.

Read more →

Vietnamese take active part in ASEAN people’s forum

A large group of Vietnamese attended the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2014 held in Yangon on March 21st-23rd, where they took an active part in various plenaries, workshops and side events.

Read more →

Strategic Environmental Assessment for Each River Basin

On November 25, Vietnam River Network (VRN), Center for People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature, Vietnam Union of Science and Technology) and Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (Ciwarem) sent a recommendation document to the National Assembly (NA) on planning and management of hydropower projects on rivers’ basin.

As assessed by VRN and PanNature, with a dense network of rivers and favorable geological conditions, Vietnam is considered as one of the countries with hydropower potential. For over 20 years, this potential source has been strongly exploited to serve the objectives of socio- economic development of the country. Currently, Vietnam has 268 hydroelectric projects of large, small and medium scale that have gone into operation, contributing 45.17 % of the total power output of the national electricity grid. However, a large area of forestland, agricultural land and other types was permanently acquired by these works. Worse still, hydropower plants alter natural flow of rivers in both flooding season and dry season, which significantly reduces the amount of the downstream sediment.

thuydienHaGiangPhoto: PanNature.

In that context, VRN, PanNature and Ciwarem have recommended the NA and management agencies urgently implement a comprehensive assessment of the operational process of hydropower projects as well as separate projects as ladder works, dam and downstream safety; continue reviewing hydropower development planning, consider delaying construction projects in planning without adequate assessment of the environmental and social costs. It is essential that the government prioritizes strategic environmental assessment of hydropower development plan in each river basin to examine related issues, such as environmental and social impacts; coherence with development planning or other nature conservation plans before shifting to the investment phase.

Source: MONRE

Call for rethink on hydro-power plants

Four non-government organisations (NGOs) have called on the National Assembly for tighter controls on hydro-power plants to prevent loss of lives and widespread damage during storms.

The recommendation was made by the Viet Nam River Network (VRN), People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Centre for Sustainable Development of Water Resources and Adaptation to Climate Change (CEWAREC), and the Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (CIWAREM).

The NGO leaders said that the operation of existing power plants had created severe impacts on residents lives, property – and the environment.

thuydien112013Photo: PanNature.

“We understand the contribution these plants make to the economic development of the nation, but we call for reconsideration on planning future ones and their impacts on rivers and environment in general,” said Lam Thi Thu Suu, VRN’s chief coordinator.

“We also call for more responsible management by Government on sharing water resources and water discharges during the flood season.

“For years, locals in Central region have experienced so much loss, including loss of lives, properties, livelihood and culture,” she said.

In early November, the unannounced discharge of a huge volume of water from Huong Dien and Binh Dien power plants in Thua Thien Hue Province killed three people on their way to school and on work.

Later, continuous water discharges of water from power reservoirs added to the floods caused by heavy rains in Central provinces from Thua Thien Hue to Khanh Hoa. The size of the floods was described as historic. They claimed 43 lives, destroyed concrete bridges and roads, and wiped out thousands of hectares of crops.

The record floods created an emergency situation for thousands of people in the southern Central region and Central Highlands.

At a NA session last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung admitted that the management of power plants had been loosely handled and pledged that the National Assembly would tighten up the situation.

The four local NGOs also recommended forcing power plant developers, managers and central and local governments to comply with strict regulations.

They asked for a detailed assessment on the losses caused by power plants so that those affected could be properly compensated and enabled to get on with their lives.

The NGOs recommendation called for environmental-impact assessments for power projects to be carefully implemented by the scientific community before any new work was done.

Source: VietnamNews

Vietnam pushing ahead with nuclear power expansion

Vietnam is more committed than ever to meet its growing energy needs with nuclear power while its energy-hungry neighbors have become more cautious of the energy source after the Fukushima meltdown.

Nuclear plans are set to be on the agenda as Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Vietnam Tuesday. Vietnam is working with Russian utility and energy company Rosatom on its first two-reactor nuclear power station in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, whose construction has been delayed by three years, from 2014 to 2017.

Workers repair electric grid in HanoiWorkers repair an electric grid in Hanoi. Facing a chronic power shortage, Vietnam has chalked out an ambitious plan to supply at least six percent of its electricity needs from nuclear power by the year 2030. PHOTO: REUTERS

Last month, the US and Vietnam also inked a deal allowing American companies to develop civilian nuclear power here. Japan and South Korea have also exhibited interests in gaining a foothold in an industry that could be worth US$50 billion by 2030, according to US estimates.

Talks about funding the construction of the second nuclear power plant, also in Ninh Thuan, have been underway between Japan and Vietnam. Meanwhile, during her visit to Vietnam last September, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said her country was interested in introducing its nuclear power technology here, adding that a joint study on a project to build a nuclear power plant in Vietnam had been launched, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Facing a chronic power shortage, Vietnam has chalked out an ambitious plan to supply at least six percent of its electricity needs from nuclear power by the year 2030. With the first nuclear plant set to come on-stream in 2020, the country envisages building eight nuclear plants and 13 reactors by 2030.

“I believe nuclear power is a very reliable and economical source of energy,” said Joonhong Ahn, a nuclear professor at the University of California in Berkeley.

“I cannot think of any national energy plan without nuclear power for such a big country with a lot of potential as Vietnam,” he told Vietweek.

If things go as planned, Vietnam will be the first Southeast Asian nation to commission a working nuclear plant, though other neighbors have talked about the idea for years.

Southeast Asia has no working nuclear power plants, but more than half of the countries in the region plan to develop nuclear power as a solution to looming energy shortages. Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines are also looking to build nuclear plants or start up non-operational ones in the next few decades.

But after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011, the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, some officials and activists in the Southeast Asian region are asking that the pursuit of nuclear power be rethought.

“Among the ASEAN countries, it appears that Vietnam possesses the most concrete plans for developing nuclear power, including both a definite timeframe for the construction of nuclear plants and business deals concluded with Russia,” Kevin Punzalan, a researcher at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde in the Philippines who has surveyed plans for nuclear energy development across Southeast Asia, told Vietweek.

In contrast, Malaysia and Indonesia have set “target dates” for the construction of plants that have not been backed up by more detailed plans. The Philippines has the Bataan NPP, but no government has been willing to rehabilitate it for operation, especially after Fukushima.

“Vietnam will prioritize nuclear power development” to address its power crunch, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said at a Vietnam-Russia business forum last month.

With countries trying to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and other fossil-fuel based power plants, and questions over nuclear power, energy-hungry Vietnam, with a population of 90 million, is following its own energy path.

The country generates 40 percent of its power from hydropower plants. Oil and gas reserves deliver 31 percent of energy, but crude oil output has peaked. Under a government blueprint, coal is projected to cover over 56 percent of all electricity production capacities in Vietnam by 2030, making the country an important coal importer.

But that is not a good thing.

“Coal is producing high levels of emissions and it is also polluting in other senses, whereas mining is causing destruction of landscapes, biodiversity and is causing health problems in itself,” said Koos Neefjes, the policy advisor on climate change for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Vietnam.

“Coal is cheap, comparatively, even imported coal. But in all cases coal poses an enormous logistical challenge [with] huge ships, harbors required,” Neefjes said.

Although the government has enacted a green growth strategy, experts say other renewable resources — such as wind, solar and biofuels — have not been given priority.

“Vietnam has still not paid enough attention to energy efficiency,” said Trinh Le Nguyen, executive director of People and Nature Reconciliation, one of Vietnam’s few locally based conservation groups. “Nuclear, hydropower, and coal will remain the main sources of energy of Vietnam,” he said.

“Perhaps Vietnam won’t plan to invest much in renewable resources itself.”

Source: VietWeek

Rebalance the Lower Mekong Development

On 4th November 2013, The panel discussion ”Rebalance the Lower Mekong Development: Are there Cooperative and Equitable Solutions Available?” was co-organized by PanNature and the Henry L. Stimson Center.

With progress on Xayaburi continuing unabated and plans for further mainstream dam construction in the works for the Don Sahong and Pak Beng, the future of cooperative, sustainable, and equitable development of the river appears increasingly in doubt.

Dr.Richard P. Cronin, the Director of Southeast Asia Program, Stimson Center in the panel discussion

Dr.Richard P. Cronin, the Director of Southeast Asia Program, Stimson Center in the panel discussion

The undeniable fact is that the first dams on the Mekong’s mainstream are being constructed in Lao regardless of the MRC’s Agreement, recommendations of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as well as objection ideas of its neibouring countries.

As a downstream country, Vietnam will certainly suffer from any impacts caused by upstream dams on the Mekong river. These impacts will have significant implications on food and environmental security, economic-social-political stability of the country in the future.

Answering the question whether the environmental and social impact of those dams can be mitigated by preventing the worst situated dams from being constructed, some suggested that economic compensation should be considered as an alternative solution to persuade Lao to cancel the construction of dams. In addition, strong support from such financial institutions as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, development partners, donors and other stakeholders plays an extremely important role in this case.

Opinions from the discussion agreed that the impacts from mainstream hydropower development were extremely serious, uncompensatible and irreversible, and that MRC was essential but not sufficient enough to gain equitable solutions. In order to gain a common wealthy situation and equitable development for the region, political commitment from all MRC’s member countries was an obligation.

Consensus – key to protect lower Mekong River

As a nation in the lower Mekong River basin, Vietnam potentially bears serious impacts from programmes and development projects deployed on the mainstream of the upper river, and therefore needs to put forward solutions to deal with different development scenarios.

Vietnam’s territory accounts for eight percent of the basin’s total area and 11 percent of its total water volume.

The territory, which is home to 20 million Vietnamese people, includes the source of Nam Ron River in northern Dien Bien province, the upper Se Kong and Se Ba Hieng Rivers, the Se San and Srepok River basins, and the Mekong River Delta.

Development in the Mekong River’s upper area will have environmental and social impacts on the lower Mekong River.

Under the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Hydropower on the Mekong Mainstream conducted by the International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), Vietnam may suffer greater economic losses if a dam system is constructed on the mainstream.

Xayaburi-photo

The Mekong River in Laos. Photo: PanNature.

The construction would result in a reduction in the river’s water volume in the dry season, which combined with climate change impacts and rising sea water levels will lead to increased sea-water intrusion and affect the Mekong River Delta’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

It will also reduce the amount of silt from 26 to seven million tonnes per year to seven million tonnes annually, while the delta’s aquatic sector will see an annual estimated loss between 500 million and one billion USD.

According to Tran Thi Thanh Thuy from People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) – a non-governmental organisation dedicated to protecting the environment, Vietnam may execute solutions to deal with the losses by stepping up cooperation through the Mekong River Commission.

The Agreement on the Cooperation for Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin has been the best cooperation framework to exchange, negotiate and seek consensus on issues relating to the basin’s development.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee needs to improve its organising capacity, implement programmes and projects to survey impacts, and seek out solutions to support Government policymaking and cooperation with other countries in the region.

Vietnam needs to create consensus in the ASEAN community on the orientations of the basin’s development, she added.

It should also encourage social organisations and non-governmental organisations to enhance national and regional cooperation and dialogues so as to create social support and consensus to protect local people in the basin and Vietnam in particular.

The country must cooperate with sponsors and partners from Laos and Cambodia to seek optimal and sustainable development solutions that are in line with each country.

With its experience in economic growth and poverty reduction, Vietnam could help neighbouring countries apply the development models effectively, and avoid any negative impacts that may emerge in the process of development.

The efficient implementation of programmes, investment projects and development aid is another critical solution. As investors, Vietnamese enterprises need to study and apply international standards to their projects deployed in neigbouring countries to minimise environmental and social consequences.

Vietnam’s ways to rationally deal with the issues depends on each development scenario. However, the most crucial factor is still a consensus on development cooperation between relevant countries to protect the lower Mekong River, Thuy stressed.

Source: VietnamPlus

Conservation hell Vietnam pulls plug on park’s UNESCO recognition

In what was apparently a face-saving move, Vietnam opted to withdraw its nomination of a major national park for UNESCO heritage status two days ahead of an annual session that opened June 16 in Cambodia.

But even if Vietnam had gone ahead with nominating the Cat Tien National Park, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization would have probably rejected it following a recommendation to the effect by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Read more →
People and Nature Reconciliation | Office: 24 H2, Khu do thi moi Yen Hoa
Yen Hoa quarter, Cau Giay district, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: ++8424 3556-4001 | Fax: ++8424 3556-8941 | Email: contact@nature.org.vn