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Electricity projects progressing slowly, Vietnam warned of power shortage

An electricity shortage did not occur in 2010-2019, but it may face a problem in 2021-2025 as a series of electricity generation projects have been going slowly.

The latest report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) on solutions to develop power generation sources by 2030 shows that electricity production growth in 2011-2019 was 10.1 percent per annum, and the electrical merchandise growth rate was 10.5 percent, while the maximum load capacity (Pmax) in 2019 was 38,249 MW.




The average growth rate of power sources in 2011-2015 reached 13 percent per annum, of which the coal-fired power growth rate was the highest at 27 percent per annum, followed by hydropower with 15 percent and renewably energy with 37 percent. However, because of the small installation capacity, renewably energy just accounted for 0.2 percent in 2015.

In 2016-2019, the growth rate of power source development saw a considerable decline, just 8 percent per annum. Hydraulic power saw the sharpest decline with a modest 5 percent growth rate, while coal-fired power was just 10 percent.

This was because hydropower potential was nearly fully exploited, while it was difficult to build coal-fired power plants.

Meanwhile, this period witnessed a boom in the number and capacity of renewable energy projects.

Under Plan 7, as many as 116 power generation projects need to be invested and put into operation, not including renewable energy projects. But after four years of implementation, many projects have not been implemented.

As of the end of August, the total capacity of renewable energy had reached 6,000 MW, including 5,245 MW of solar power, 450 MW of wind power, 325 MW of biomass power, and 10 MW of electricity generated from solid waste. Besides, there have been 47,000 rooftop solar power systems installed with total capacity of 1,000 MW.

The total capacity of renewable energy projects accounted for more than 10 percent of total capacity.

Under the adjusted national seventh electricity development plan (Plan 7), Vietnam needs to put 96,500 MW of power into operation within 15 years, from 2016 to 2030, or 6,430 MW a year, in order to satisfy power demand for socio-economic development.

However, power generation projects have been going slowly, thus threatening to affect the electricity supply plan.

Under Plan 7, as many as 116 power generation projects need to be invested and put into operation, not including renewable energy projects. But after four years of implementation, many projects have not been implemented.

The National Assembly decided to stop the 4,600 MW nuclear power project in Ninh Thuan province, and the coal-fired thermopower projects in Bac Lieu, Quang Ninh, Ha Tinh, Long An and Tien Giang. Meanwhile, some provinces, including Bac Lieu, Ba Ria – Vung Tau and Ninh Thuan are seeking permission to add new gas-fired projects nto Plan 7.

A lot of BOT (build, operate, transfer) projects, including Van Phong 1, Vinh Tan 3, Nghi Son 2, Vung Ang 2 and Nam Dinh 1, have been going slowly because it takes time to negotiate BOT contracts.


According to MOIT, because of Covid-19, the additional demand in the time to come will be lower than previously predicted.

The Energy Institute has estimated that the electricity merchandise demand would increase by 8 percent in 2021-2030 with the electricity output of 337.5 billion kwh by 2025 and 478.1 billion kwh by 2020.

As such, the electricity merchandise demand would decrease by 15 billion kwh by 2025 and 230 billion kwh by 2030 compared with Plan 7.

However, as projects have been going slowly, an electricity shortage risk will still exist in 2021-2025, the period which will see big changes in the power source structure.

MOIT predicted that by 2030, coal-fired power, with 50,000 MW, would account for 33.6 percent of total capacity (9 percent lower than Plan 7), gas-fired power, with 27,800 MW, would account for 19 percent (4 percent higher), and large-scale (over 30 MW) hydropower with 19,200 MW, would account for 13 percent. Small-scale hydropower and renewable energy, with 38,300 MW, would account for 27 percent (6 percent higher).

MOIT has suggested a series of solutions to prevent an electricity shortage.

First, putting more wind and solar power projects into operation in 2021-2025. Second, designing more gas-fired power projects using LNG. Third, increasing the import of electricity from Laos and China.

Fourth, building a transmission network to use up power capacity. Fifth, applying policies to encourage the effective use of electricity. 

Luong Bang

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