Vietnam cancels NPP projects

15 November 2016

The Vietnamese government has cancelled the Ninh Thuan NPP project, after cost estimates for the plant nearly doubled, according to the Hanoi-based news agency dtinews. Le Hong Tinh, vice chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Science, Technology, and Environment, in an interview conducted with dtinews on 10 November, said costs for the project had increased to VND400,000bn ($19bn), raising concerns about the project’s feasibility. Although a significant sum has already been spent on the project, Vietnam is closing to cut its losses. 

Many things have changed since the project was approved in 2009. At the time, annual economic growth estimates were in the 7.5-10% range, and electricity demand was expected to follow suit. But current growth estimates are only around 6%, and energy efficiency improvements, spurred by the proliferation of modern technology, have held electricity demand growth in check.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was also a factor. Delays ensued following the 2011 accident, and in September 2014, Vietnam’s Trade Ministry said work would not begin on the first of eight planned units until at least 2020. In late 2015, Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency, said, many hurdles, including lack of experience and a workforce shortage, were also obstacles.

However, Duong Quang Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Electricity Corp, told the media on 9 November that nuclear power was much more expensive than other options, such as coal or oil, making it uncompetitive. Le Hong Tinh seemed to echo the sentiment, suggesting that original estimates priced nuclear power at 4¢–4.5¢/kWh, but based on the latest cost projections, the plant’s power would have been priced closer to 8¢/kWh.

The government will submit its proposal to cancel the project to the National Assembly, which is expected to ratify it later this month, the official Vietnam News Agency reported. The National Assembly in 2009 ratified the plan to build two NPPs with a combined capacity of 4,000MWe in the central province of Ninh Thuan. The government chose Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Japan Atomic Power Company to build the stations, and signed a deal to borrow $8bn from Russia for building the first facility. Construction was initially scheduled to begin in 2014, but had been delayed several times. Early last year, officials said construction would be delayed until at least 2019, citing safety concerns following Fukushima.

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