Pandemic challenges wind power projects in Mekong Delta

Several wind power projects currently under development in the Mekong River Delta area are rushing to complete and start operating on a commercial basis before the November deadline,

 which would allow them to enjoy the preferential policies accorded under Decision No. 39/2018/ Decision-TTg of the Prime Minister.

Pandemic challenges wind power projects in Mekong Delta
Illustrative photo. (Source: SGGP)

However, due to the complicated situations created by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many of these projects are facing setbacks and difficulties and may not be able to meet the scheduled deadline of 1 November this year. 

Construction problems

The Vien An wind power plant will have a capacity of 50 MW, which is an investment project of the Vien An Energy One Member Limited Liability Company, with capital of around VND 2,411 bn, to be built in the Ngoc Hien District of Ca Mau Region. Currently, out of 49 required wind power poles, the construction unit has only completed just half of the foundation, while there is an urgent rush to complete the remaining. However, piers T27, T35, T36, T38 T42, T46, and T47 are having difficulty in construction due to problems of land accessibility.

The reason is that many households that will be affected by the Vien An wind power plant have not yet agreed to hand over the site to the construction unit, because many still believe that the compensation price for their land is not reasonable enough. Besides, many wind power poles are being deployed on the forest land of Dat Mui Protection Forest Management Board and the Kien Vang Protection Forest Management Board, so it will take a long time to change the usage of forest land for purposes of building a wind power plant, which will certainly affect the overall rate of progress in completing the construction works.

Mr. Nguyen Dang Hien, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs of the Vien An Energy Company Limited, said that currently the project site clearance work which is being handled by the local authorities, related departments, and provincial leaders is facing many obstacles. The company wants the authorities to speed up site clearance, implement legal procedures for land allocation in a timely manner, and help the contractor execute the wind power project on schedule.

In Bac Lieu Province, there are nine wind power projects with a total capacity of 562 MW. Over the last few years, wind power projects in the area have encountered many difficulties, especially in the transportation of super long and super heavy equipment. According to the Department of Transport of Bac Lieu Province, the coastal traffic routes in the area can only bear a maximum load of 16 tons and a maximum capacity of 25 tons over bridges. However, the super long and super heavy equipment weighs around hundreds of tons. Therefore, the department is cooperating with related units and the owner to find different options to bring super long and super heavy equipment to the construction site of the wind power project.

Similarly, in Soc Trang Province, there are also nine wind power projects, with six projects with turbines on land, with a total capacity of 262 MW. For wind power projects with turbine poles on the sea, the transportation of equipment is somewhat more convenient than placing turbines on land because the road infrastructure cannot meet the demand for transporting super long and super heavy equipment.

Among some other difficulties there are also worries that many wind power investors in the Mekong Delta region have a problem of synchronous investment in the transmission line system connecting with wind power plants to release capacity. In Ca Mau region, the Southern Electricity Project Management Board said that the project of Nam Can 220kV transformer station and Nam Can-Ca Mau 2 220kV transmission line, has just finished valuation of its assets.

This unit now proposes that Ca Mau Province must now accelerate site clearance to deploy the work soon to complete wind power projects in the province to release capacity, and increase the transmission capacity of the power system. Similarly, many other wind power investors in the coastal provinces of the Mekong Delta are also worried that the transmission lines will not be in sync with the wind power plants. 

 

Projects need support

According to Decision No. 39/2018/QD-TTG dated 10 September 2018 of the Prime Minister, which has amended and supplemented a number of articles of the Prime Minister's Decision No. 37/2011/QD-TTG dated 29 June 2011, on the development of wind power projects in Vietnam, so as to enjoy the preferential electricity price of 8.5 cents/kWh of value VND 1,928 for onshore wind power projects, and 9.8 cents/kWh of value VND 2,223 for offshore wind power projects. Wind power projects must operate commercially before 1 November 2021 to be able to benefit from the preferential policies.

The time from now until early November is not too much, and the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming even more complicated with so many localities having to implement social distancing measures which have affected the transportation of equipment, especially wind turbines. It is also difficult for foreign experts to enter Vietnam with more limitations in travel and even more scarce human resources. Faced with these obstacles, many investors in wind power projects in the Mekong Delta region are worried about not being able to complete the projects on time.

According to a leader at the Vien An Energy Co., Ltd., with each passing day, the project is losing time and being delayed even further. Therefore, the company has approached the authorities in Ca Mau province with a call for urgent help and support to resolve these problems and issues. The investor has also suggested that Ca Mau Province send a police force to support and protect construction work in case any incident may occur and promptly intervene if required.

Mr. Nguyen Dang Hien, Deputy Director in charge of legal affairs of Vien An Energy Co., Ltd., is determined to tackle the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current weather in the rainy and storm season, to implement and complete the project. All items of work must also be implemented simultaneously, to as to be able to be on the grid by the end of October 2021.

Mr. Dao Hai Linh, General Director of the Hoa Binh 1 Wind Power Company in Bac Lieu Province believes that the project has faced many difficulties in the past, but due to timely support by the province, there has been progress in implementing the project and there is hope that the goal of putting the plant into commercial operations before 1 November will be met.

However, Mr. Linh also informed that one wind power project fell into stalemate and failed to keep up with the schedule. One of the most difficult problems is not being able to solve the problem of human resources, especially of foreign experts. Currently, there are very few high-quality human resources serving in wind power projects in the Mekong Delta region, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City, and experts need be hired from abroad on an urgent basis.

Source: SGGP

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