An increasing number of solar power plants are placing mounting pressure on Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) by developing power grids and connecting them with plants over a short period, officials said.
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An EVN report revealed that solar power projects, which have so far added to the Power Development Master Plan VII, have a combined capacity of some 15,000 megawatt peak, thanks to the attractive power sale price.
According to an April 2017 decision of the prime minister, State-owned utility EVN is required to purchase all output from solar power projects connected to the national grid at VND2,086, or 9.35 U.S. cents, per kilowatt hour, excluding value-added tax.
The period for electricity purchase contracts with EVN is set for 20 years from the start of commercial operations. The decision, which came into effect in early June last year, will expire late next month.
Solar and wind power plant projects are mainly situated in the south-central and southern parts of the country because of their favorable climate conditions. These regions have a load capacity accounting for roughly 50% of the total.
Therefore, the operations of these projects are expected to reduce the shortage of electricity to some extent in the southern region. This will help secure the electricity supply and reduce pressure on power system operations.
However, Nguyen Duc Ninh, deputy director of the Electricity National Load Dispatch Center, was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying that as of May 17, EVN had connected 27 solar power plants with the national power grid, at a total capacity of some 1,500 megawatts (MW). There are nine plants in the south, 17 in central Vietnam and one in the north.
A total of 44 other plants in May and June are being linked to the grid, so each week sees an average of 10 plants starting operations, which is regarded as a heavy workload for his center, Ninh said.
He added that work on each solar power project takes one to two years to complete, but the development of the corresponding transmission grid requires three to four years of work.
Given the current situation, many experts predicted that the electricity system would face issues related to the electricity lines and transformers, causing system instability and device danger.
Mai Duy Thien, a representative of the Vietnam Clean Energy Association, said that the source capacity of renewable energy varies according to weather conditions, while transmission capacity varies from 60%-80% over a period of only 5-10 minutes and occurs randomly in the same project area.
Therefore, the electricity system must stay operational to maintain the balance between the source and transmission, he said.
The EVN report pointed out that given an installed capacity of 3,000 MW at solar power plants with a margin of error at 20%, standby power requires up to 600 MW, equivalent to the output of a large coal power plant, to maintain its corresponding output. This is forecast to cause difficulties and raise operational costs for the State group. SGT