Vietnam - the next solar powerhouse?

By Minh Thu - Jun 03, 2019 | 04:23 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERNearly 50 solar power projects are expected to be put into operation this June, boosting the total solar power capacity in Vietnam to 5,000MW. The challenges now linger with the capability of the national grid to handle the additional power.

Vietnam - the next solar powerhouse?
A solar power project developed by BIM/AC Renewables in southern Ninh Thuan province.

According to Electricty of Vietnam (EVN), 47 solar power projects with a total capacity of 3,200 MW have just been connected to the national grid with the last three months and the other 49 projects with a total capacity of 2,600MW will also be put into operation by the end of June.

“Vietnam will definitely become one of the world’s solar powerhouses in the near future”, noted EVN deputy general director Vo Quang Lam at the government’s monthly press conference held on May 31.

The number of applications for solar energy projects connecting with the national electricty grid has risen significantly over the past months as investors are racing to put their solar plants into operation by June 30, 2019, in a bid to qualify for pricing incentives offered by the government.

Under the current scheme, solar power installations that can reach their commercial operation date by June 30 are entitled to a feed-in tariff (FIT) of 9.35 cents per kilowatt-hour for a total period of 20 years.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai, hydropower source is going to be exhausted and thermal power has taken their toll on the environment. Focusing on renewable energy including solar and wind power is therefore the right path for the country to prevent power shortage and avoid pollution.

However, Hai acknowledged the development of solar power have been facing many challenges. Hundreds of solar projects, in particular, have been held up and could not be implemented due to issues related to the Law on Planning. In addition, the national grid’s connection needs more financial investment and improvement in technologies to be able to handle the added power.

EVN, meanwhile, has established numerous working groups, especially in regions with many solar power projects, to assist them with the power connection plan. Enterprises and investors can track progress through website. At the same time, EVN has shortened the time needed to complete the power connection documents and enterprises are now allowed to fill the form online.

Currently, Ninh Thuan province is home to the most solar power projects with a capacity of 1,752MW, followed closely by Binh Thuan, Tay Ninh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa.