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Carbon Tracker's Coal Portal
Vietnam Briefing 2018
Vietnam’s low-cost renewables revolution and its implications for coal power investments
- By 2020 it will be cheaper to invest in new solar PV than new coal and by 2021 for new onshore wind.
- As soon as 2022, it could be cheaper to build new solar PV and onshore wind than operate existing coal plants.
Independent of carbon pricing and additional air pollution regulations, new coal investments are already becoming high cost and thus are destined to become stranded assets. By 2020 it could be cheaper to invest in new solar PV than new coal and by 2021 for new onshore wind. These changing cost dynamics post a significant stranded asset risk if investors and policymakers decide to go ahead with the 32 GW of coal capacity in the project pipeline.
It could be cheaper to build new renewables than operate existing coal plants as soon as 2022. Independent of additional climate or air pollution regulations, Carbon Tracker analysis shows it will be cheaper for Vietnam to build new solar PV than to operate existing coal plants as soon as 2022, calling into question not only planned coal investments but also the economic viability of the entire operating coal fleet.
Pro-coal policymaker dilemma: blue pill or red pill? If Vietnamese policymakers remain committed to coal power the nation will face an unfortunate dilemma: continue to subsidise coal generators to maintain their financial viability or keep tariffs artificially low to shelter consumers from higher costs. Both outcomes could prove unsustainable, as subsidising coal generation will either anger taxpayers or energy consumers, while artificially low tariffs for consumers will impact fiscal resources. As such, Vietnam should stop investing in new coal before 2020 and plan to develop a retirement schedule for the existing coal fleet.