Vietnam’s coal imports in the first half of this year increased by more than 50% to a record high, government data showed, as reported by Reuters, mostly to feed the country’s growing number of coal-fired power plants.

Coal imports in the January-June period rose 53.8% from a year earlier to 31.57 million mt.

Vietnam turned from a net coal exporter to a net importer about five years ago and has become more reliant on imported coal for its electricity production, though the government is seeking to reduce its coal reliance and boost renewables.

Coal-fired plants now account for around 35% of Vietnam’s installed power generation capacity, a ratio that will stay unchanged for the next five years, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s institute of energy.

Its coal imports in the first half of this year, mostly from Indonesia, Australia and Russia, exceeded the domestic coal production of 25.27 million mt.

Last year’s coal imports nearly doubled from a year earlier to 43.77 million mt.

Last year, the ministry said Vietnam would face severe power shortages from 2021 as construction of new plants lags demand. Electricity consumption is expected to exceed supply by 6.6 billion kWh in 2021, and 15 billion kWh in 2023.