Wind energy key to Vietnam’s renewable power supply

Wind power is a clean energy solution for Vietnam in the coming years as the country has huge potential in the field, energy experts has said.
According to the Vietnam Energy Association (VEA), wind power can replace coal and gas thermal power, while being capable of generating power for 24 hours a day. Therefore, developing wind power, especially offshore wind projects, will be the key to replace fossil energy that is currently used the most. Vietnam has an estimated total wind capacity of 513,360 MW, the largest in Southeast Asia, six times higher than the expected capacity of the whole domestic electricity industry in 2020 and much larger than the potential of other countries in the region, such as Thailand (152,392 MW), Laos (182,252 MW) and Cambodia (26,000 MW). However, Vietnam has just put into operation several wind power projects with a total capacity of over 300 MW, still slower than the target of 800 MW by 2020 stated in the adjusted national electricity development planning for the 2011-2020 period (Power Development Master Plan VII) approved by the Government in 2016. At a recent Hanoi seminar discussing the planned Thang Long offshore wind power project, organised by the British Embassy in Vietnam, the VEA and Enterprize Energy Group, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Vietnam, Gareth Ward, stated that according to the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) report, Vietnam has offshore wind resources similar to the UK. Therefore, the British Government is eager to assist Vietnam in exploiting the resource to meet the national energy goals. Talking about Vietnam’s wind power potential, VEA Chairman Tran Viet Ngai, said that after solar power, wind power will be also be a clean energy solution for Vietnam because of its huge potential. Currently, the development trend of offshore wind power is gaining much attention in the country. According to Ngai, the Government, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the Vietnam Electricity (EVN) have determined that from 2020 to 2023, at the current pace of development, the country would likely suffer a shortage of electricity, if the projects under the Power Development Master Plan VII (revised) continue to be lagging behind schedule. Recently, the Prime Minister and the MOIT have allowed the Enterprize Energy Group to study and survey the Thang Long offshore wind power project off the Ke Ga cape in Binh Thuan province’s coast, with a capacity of 3,400 MW and a total investment up to US$11.9 billion. As a huge potential offshore wind power project, it would provide a huge amount of clean electricity to the national grid, thus contributing to solving the shortage of energy, especially in the southern region. Sharing the same opinion with Ngai, Liming Qiao, Asia Director of the Global Wind Energy Council, said that with great potential in wind power, Vietnam will be an attractive investment destination if it can ensure stable and long lasting legal framework. She suggested that Vietnam makes more efforts to improve the efficiency and transparency of market regulations as well as the procurement process, while standardising electricity trading contracts and simplifying project approval process in order to motivate investors to enter the market. While the national electricity supply is facing difficulties, Ngai said that the early inclusion of renewable energy projects, with great potential as Thang Long offshore wind power project, into the national electricity development planning is absolutely essential. The inclusion of projects into the Government’s electricity planning, in addition to facilitating the projects to enter the stage of signing contracts to deploy investment activities, provides the basis for the relevant agencies to update the planning for connecting the projects into the grid, as well as helping to clearly define investment in power transmission systems, lines and power stations, thus ensuring the project capacity and the local absorption ability in the projects’ areas. As the investor of Thang Long offshore wind power project, Enterprize Energy Chairman, Ian Hatton, said with appropriate and stable policies from the Government of Vietnam, as well as a reasonable power purchase agreement and the use of proven turbine technology from reputable contractors for manufacturing and installation, international banks would ensure sufficient capital for the project implementation. Recently, the Prime Minister and the MOIT have agreed to allow Enterprize Energy to research and survey the Thang Long offshore wind power project. The investor has completed the elaboration of additional electricity planning and submitted it to the MOIT for appraisal. Ian Hatton also expressed his wish that the project would soon be approved by the Government to be added to the Power Development Master Plan VII, so that by 2023 its first turbine would start generating electricity. The success of the Thang Long offshore wind power project would provide a huge amount of clean electricity for Vietnam’s electricity system, contributing to ensuring energy security and environmental protection in the future, he said. From the local perspective, Ha Le Thanh Chung, Deputy Head of the Binh Thuan Provincial Department of Industry and Trade, said that the investment in wind power projects is consistent with the national orientation of developing renewable and clean energy sources, while also in line with the goal of turning Binh Thuan into a clean energy hub of Vietnam.