VietNamNet Bridge – The Ministry of Industry and Trade has proposed to stop 338 hydropower projects after checking the 1,200 planned projects.
Most of the 338 projects are the small ones; where “problems” were found in the licensing with no sufficient details about the impossible impacts of the projects on the environment and local people.
According to To Quoc Tru, Director of VECC, a power consultancy firm, the negative impacts of hydropower plants on the environment are inevitable. Especially, the influences would be very serious if the projects’ implementation does not undergo the strict supervision from the design to the implementation and operation.
In order to create 1 MW of electricity in Vietnam, it’s necessary to resettle 3.3 households in big scale projects and 0.16 households in small scale projects. All hydropower plant projects cover large land areas, mostly the forest land, about 10 hectare per 1 MW. This means that the forests would be destroyed to give place to power plants.
Hydropower plants not only cause the environment pollution because they “swallow” the forest land, but they also affect the water flow capacity, causing either drought or flood, thus causing big losses to the lowland.
Hydropower plant projects have been mushrooming. The hydropower plant network is so thick in the central region and Central Highlands. Kon Tum province alone has 48 projects, while there are 100 in Gia Lai.
Local authorities prove to be so eager for building hydropower plants. In order to please them, the Song Tranh 2 hydropower plant project located in Bac Tra My district of Quang Nam province, the area with complicated geological conditions, was also approved. The plant is now a big danger hung over the local people, whose lives have been threatened regularly because of the repeated earthquakes.
Koos Neefjes, a specialist on climate change from UNDP, has blamed this on the lack of a fully worked out process of predicting the possible impacts on the environment. Therefore, he applauded the removal of the 338 projects which have not thoroughly followed the process.
But what will happen if Vietnam cuts off the number of the hydropower plant projects?
If so, Vietnam would have only 899 hydropower projects to be implemented, which have the total capacity of 24,880 MW. The removal of the 338 small plants would lead to the loss of 1,088.9 MW of electricity. However, it is still worrying in the context of the power shortage.
Dr. Doan Van Binh from the Energy Science Institute has warned that Vietnam may fact the power shortage in the near future. The country’s demand for electricity has increased rapidly by 14 percent per annum. Meanwhile, the main energy supply sources have reached the exploitation limit. The crude oil output tends to decrease, while the coal exploitation has declined due to the poor infrastructure and the backward technologies.
Tru of VECC said pumped storage hydropower could be a solution to the problem. The biggest advantage of this kind of power plants over the current hydropower plants is that it’s necessary to build two water reservoirs at the different heights (the height difference is about several hundreds of meters).
He believes that the hydropower plants would cover smaller land area which allows minimizing the influences to the environment.