Potential for renewable energy development in Vietnam


Vietnam has a long coastline, a tropical monsoon climate and an agricultural economy. With abundant and diverse renewable energy sources, Vietnam has great potential for the development of energy production including hydroelectricity, wind power, solar power, biomass, geothermal, and biofuel.


By the end of 2018, Vietnam had successfully developed many renewable energy projects with 285 small hydroelectric plants, with a total capacity of about 3,322 MW, 08 wind power plants with a total capacity of 243 MW and 10 biomass power plants with a total capacity of about 212 MW. Regarding solar power, more than 100 projects have signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Vietnam Electricity (EVN).


Wind power potential


Vietnam is located in the tropical monsoon area and owns a coastline of more than 3,200 km. Moreover, the average wind speed from the East Sea of Vietnam is quite strong. Therefore, the potential of wind energy in Vietnam is very promising. Thirty-nine percent of Vietnam’s territory has wind speeds greater than 6m/s at an altitude of 65m, equivalent to 513 GW. In particular, more than 8% of the territory, or 112 GW, is believed to have good wind energy potential.

It is estimated that Vietnam can develop about 30 GW of wind power. Together with the potential of offshore wind, around 100 GW of wind capacity can be developed.


Currently, there are 9 wind power plants/farms in operation with a total capacity of 304.6 MW, the largest of which is Bac Lieu wind farm with nearly 100 MW while the smallest is Phu Quoc wind power plant.


In addition, 18 wind power plant/farm projects are under construction with a total capacity of 812 MW, two of which have a capacity of 100 MW or more.


On top of that, according to the wind power development plan for the period to 2020, with a vision to 2030 of Vietnam, the expected capacity potential is more than 22,000 MW. However, there is always a gap between expectation and reality, and the gap for wind power in Vietnam is too large which is caused by too many legal, technical, and financial barriers as well as human resources.


Solar power potential


Vietnam’s solar energy potential is also appreciated when Vietnam enjoys a lot of sunshine with high radiation intensity in the central and southern regions. In the Northwest provinces, the number of sunny hours is about 1897 - 2102 hours/year while the figures for provinces from Hue to the South are about 1900 - 2700 hours/year.

It is said that areas with 1,800 hours of sunshine per year or more are considered to have potential for solar power exploitation. For Vietnam, this criterion is suitable for many regions, especially the southern provinces.


According to EVN, as of mid-April 2019, there were only 4 solar power plants with a total capacity of less than 150 MW. In just over 2 months later, more than 4,464 MW of solar power were connected to the grid, of which 72 solar power plants are under the control of the National Load Dispatch Center (A0) with a total capacity of 4,189 MW and 10 power plants under the control of regional dispatching centers with a total capacity of 275 MW. Thus, solar power has just accounted for 8.28% of the installed capacity of Vietnam's electricity system.


Biomass power potential


As an agricultural country, Vietnam has great potential for biomass energy. The main types of biomass are energy wood, waste - by-products from crops, livestock waste, urban waste and other organic waste. These sources can be exploited by burning directly, or forming biomass fuel pellets. Biomass power from agricultural waste, livestock waste and organic waste has a total capacity of about 400 MW.


The capacity of sustainable exploitation of biomass for energy production in Vietnam is about 150 million tons per year. Some forms of biomass can be immediately exploited technically for electricity production, or applying energy cogeneration technology (producing both electricity and heat) such as rice husk in the Mekong Delta, bagasse surplus in sugar factories, domestic waste in big cities, livestock waste from cattle farms, households and other organic waste from agro-forestry-seafood processing.


At the end of 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Trade submitted to the Government for consideration to support electricity production from biomass energy. Accordingly, the highest price for electricity produced from biomass is 2,100 VND/kWh. 


Small hydropower potential


Vietnam has a dense network of rivers across the country. Small hydropower is located mainly in the mountainous areas of the North, South Central and Central Highlands. Hydroelectricity is still the renewable energy source with the highest capacity, contributing about 40% to the total national electricity capacity.


Potential for small hydropower is huge with more than 2,200 rivers and streams with a length of more than 10km. In particular, 90% are small rivers and streams, which are favorable bases for small hydropower development. The technical potential of small hydroelectric plants under 30 MW in Vietnam is about 25 billion kWh/year (nearly 7,000 MW).


Source - VietnamCredit

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