Japanese minister speaks out against $2.2bn Vietnamese coal-fired power station

Japan’s minister for the environment has called on his government to cancel its support for a $2.2bn coal-fired power station, which Japanese banks are planning to help fund in Vietnam.

Shinjiro Koizumi said yesterday that the 1.2GW Vung Ang 2 plant, planned for Ha Thinh province in central Vietnam, did not meet the government’s criteria for the export of coal-fired power plants.

He added that although the government was motivated by a desire to prevent Chinese companies dominating the global market, Chinese and US contractors would be in charge of the construction of the plant.

Koizumi’s comments drew a rebuke from an official from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who commented: "I understand his desire to demonstrate his presence, but he should be careful what he says so that his comments are not interpreted as discord in the cabinet."

Japan’s policy of supporting coal-fired plants has been criticised by environmental organisations, 30 of which sent a letter to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) last October asking it not to fund Vung Ang 2.

The letter said: "Financing for yet another new coal-fired power plant would further accelerate climate change, cause the loss of livelihoods in the community near the plant, and result in further air pollution. A report by Greenpeace makes it clear that all coal-fired power plants being exported by Japan are using low-efficiency technologies that are not being used in Japan, and are only using a low level of pollution countermeasures."

Vung Ang 2, which has been in planning for the past 12 years, will be built by China GPEC and General Electric of the US.

It is being sponsored by One Diamond Ventures, a joint venture between China Light and Power and Diamond Generating Asia, a subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsubishi. Diamond bought out its majority Vietnamese partner, Vietnam’s Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Corporation, in April 2018.

A number of Japanese banks are also linked to the project, including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and the Mizuho Financial Group.

Construction work on the plant is set to begin the fourth quarter of this year.

Image: The two 600MW coal-fired turbines would be added the Vung Ang 1 plant (Dreamstime)

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