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Energy

Vietnam teams with Japan and US for low-carbon electricity

LNG-fired power plants seen as part of plan to offset Chinese influence

 A liquefied natural gas tanker docks near the Futtsu power plant in Japan: LNG produces less carbon emissions than many other types of fossil fuels. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

TOKYO -- Japan and the U.S. will help Vietnam switch to liquefied natural gas from other, less-clean types of fossil fuels, as part of their campaign to help emerging economies minimize carbon emissions.

LNG burns more cleanly than alternatives like coal, and Japan and the U.S. believe promoting the fuel is key to curbing emissions in Southeast Asia. The countries also hope that their push will help counter China's growing clout in the region, including in the energy sector.

In a joint statement from a trilateral forum on LNG held Thursday, Japan and the U.S. pledged to provide financial assistance to Vietnam for the construction of LNG-fired power plants and receiving terminals.

The countries will also work on the construction of such facilities and training of the necessary staff.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security advisor, Robert O'Brien, was in Hanoi last month when General Electric and a Vietnamese energy company signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an LNG power plant. O'Brien said the companies will build a plant near Ho Chi Minh City that will provide a 3,600 megawatts of power.

Also last month, Japanese utility Tokyo Gas and trading house Marubeni signed a memorandum of understanding to build a LNG-fired power plant in Vietnam at an estimated total investment of $1.93 billion with the aim of bringing the facility online in 2026.

Under Japan-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership, Tokyo and Washington have been helping nations develop energy-related infrastructure since 2017. They positioned Vietnam as a top priority for 2020.

Emerging and developing countries are big consumers of fossil fuel. Demand in Southeast Asia in particular will continue growing until 2040, when it will make up over 70% of the region's total energy demand, according to projections by the International Energy Agency.

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