Vietnam’s potential for wind power development far surpasses that of some other Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand, Laos and Cambodia
A study by the World Bank shows that Vietnam is capable of generating 513,360MW of wind power annually. Figures from the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Vietnam’s renewable energy indicate that this source of power will rise by some 5 percent. Vietnam is planning to develop energy sources that can replace fossil fuels in 2015-2025. Wind power and solar power are expected to account for half that amount.
According to a survey by the government, land plots covering some 17,400 hectares in Vietnam are suitable for wind power projects. The authorities in Binh Dinh, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces promise to provide investors with incentives to embark on these projects, with a capacity of over 8,000MW.
One of Vietnam’s first wind power plants in Binh Thanh Commune, Tuy Phong District, Binh Thuan Province, has a total design capacity of 120MW and five wind propeller sets, with a capacity of 1.5MW. The plant was completed and connected to the national power grid in August 2009. All the components of the next 15 wind propeller sets have been transported from Sauerland (Germany) to the work site and are about to be set up and operated.
So far, Binh Thuan has nine investors, local and foreign alike, who have been applying to embark on wind power projects. In Ninh Thuan, nearly 10 investors have established stations to obtain data on wind power in a region endowed with sunshine and wind. Phuong Mai project in Binh Dinh Province has identified the locations of wind turbine foundations and 12 wind engines (with a capacity of 2.5MW), which will be designed, produced and installed by experts from AVANTIS Energy Group in 2011.
In Lam Dong Province, two wind power projects, with a capacity of 150MW and 80MW respectively, are under way. Mau Son eco-tourism park in Lang Son is expected to have 20 wind turbine foundations, which will be installed immediately after the road linking Mau Son to the low-lying areas is completed. This construction is 600-800m above sea level.
Aerogie Plus Solution AG from Switzerland has also entered Vietnam’s energy sector by engaging in a 7.5MW wind power project, in combination with diesel engines on Con Dao Island off Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The project costs $28 million in total and is slated to go into operation in 2011-2012.
The 20 wind power projects under implementation in Vietnam are expected to generate 20,000MW, most of which will be transmitted to the national grid. The purchase, sale, supply, transmission and distribution of such electricity is determined solely by the Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN). The price of electricity rose from 4.7 cents (of US Dollar) per kWh to 5.0 cents and 5.5 cents. Some sources claim that EVN agrees to purchase power at 6.5 cents per kWh, far lower than that which investors demand (9.5 cents or at least 8.5 cents). This is indeed a hard nut to crack for those concerned.
The Canadian government provides a subsidy to push up the purchase price for electricity to 17 cents per kWh while its Australian counterpart is fleshing out a policy to increase the price to 12 cents per kWh. Through GTZ, the German government approved a subsidy equivalent to $1.47 million in August 2009 to help Vietnam develop a legal framework for connecting wind power plants to the national grid. This agreement also suggests that Vietnam should promptly map out a policy regarding wind power projects. This is proof that if it is easy to transfer profits to their own countries, foreign investors will have an incentive to offer advice on how a developing country can turn wind power into an important energy source.
Gunter Reithmacher, chief representative of GTZ in Vietnam, notes that Vietnam needs to improve its policies and provide a solid legal foundation capable of luring foreign investment into renewable energy. Klaus Bodenstein from AVANTIS Energy Group also says that Germany is tapping into wind power to protect the environment, create beautiful landscapes and avoid the deleterious impacts of nuclear power plants, which may impose an enormous burden on future generations.
In general, the growth of windpower is hindered by (1) the lack of policies and regulations governing the purchase of wind power, which entails higher costs, (2) limited financing for wind power projects, (3) the dearth of coordination and transparency between central and local governments in the formulation of wind power development plans and (4) the paucity of knowledge and technical capabilities required to carry out a wind power project from start to finish. These problems can be tackled by virtue of the experience gained from the development of the first few projects. Wind measuring stations, aimed at collecting and analysing data on wind, are being set up to pave the way for a master plan in the future.
The potential for wind power development in Vietnam (at a height of 65m) is immense, 210 times as much as the capacity of Son La hydropower project and over 10 times as much as the total forecast capacity in 2020, offered by EVN. Reality may not be so rosy, but it could be argued that wind power will be a significant energy source to replace dwindling fossil fuel reserves, whether or not offshore wind is included.