Vietnam only exploited 5 per cent of its renewable energy potential and the government sets the target to increase to figure to 11 per cent by 2050.
Vietnam is situated in the tropical zone with up to around 2,000-2,500 hours of sunshine per year. The average solar energy density is about 150 kCal per cm2, equivalent to 43.9 million tonnes of oil per year.
Meanwhile, wind power is estimated at 800-1,400 kWh per m2 per year on the mainland and 500-1,000 kWh per m2 per year in the Central Highlands, coastal areas, and the Mekong Delta region.
The total wind energy potential is estimated at 713,000 MW of which 510,000 MW on the mainland and 200,000 on islands.
Vietnam has around 1050 potential sites for small-sized hydropower, ranging from 0.1 to less than 30 MW, identified with a total capacity of 4,004.5 MW, equivalent to 16.7 million GWh per year.
With more than 300 hot streams with temperatures ranging from 30 °C to 148 °C, mainly situated in Northwest and Central Vietnam, there is an estimated geothermal power potential of 1,400 MW. While so far only limited data on geothermal reserves for power generation are available, rough estimates indicate that a capacity of 400 MW could be reached in 2020.
And the biomass production in Vietnam is based on forestry and agricultural by-products and solid waste. It mainly includes rice husk from paddy milling stations, bagasse from sugar factories, coffee husk from coffee processing plants in the Central Highlands and wood chip from wood processing industries.
The biogas energy potential in Vietnam is estimated at 6.4 MTOE/year, 60 per cent from agriculture-by-products and 30 per cent from animal manure. Another biomass source is solid waste. The Go Cat power generation station operates on municipal solid waste treatment and has a 15,587,983 kWh electricity production rate.
Government programmes and policies
To effectively tap the renewal energy potential, Vietnamese government adopted a National Energy Development Strategy in 2007 to accelerate the development of renewable energies.
The strategy include targets: increase rate from negligible share to about 3 per cent of the total commercial primary energy, equivalent to 1.4 million TOE in 2010, to 5 per cent by 2020 and 8 per cent of the total commercial primary energy equivalent to 9.0 million TOE by 2025 and 11 per cent equivalent to 35 million TOE by 2050.
Master Plan for Renewable Energy submitted to the government for final approval. The master Plan covers the national goal for developing new and renewable energies as defined in the National Strategy for Energy Development to 2020 with prospect to 2050 and ambition to increase the share of RE to 3 per cent by the year 2015, and to about 4 per cent of the total capacity by the year 2025.
The Law on Energy Saving and Efficiency was also issued by the National Assembly on 17 June 2010. The law provides many incentives for energy efficiency and conservation as well as cleaner production measures.
A wind power project with a capacity of 27 MW is under construction in Binh Thuan Province by the Vietnam Renewable Energy Joint stock company (RENV) and German Fuhrlaender AG.
Several other medium-large (10-125 MW) wind projects are in the feasibility stage.
In April 2009, the first solar panel manufacturing plant with the total investment of $10 million was launched by the Energy Conversation centre of HCM City.
The factory planned to export 60 per cent products to European and Latin American countries. In the first phase, the project will focus producing solar panels with a capacity of 3 MWp per year. In the next phase, the factory will produce solar cells from silicon bars and raise its capacity of assembling panels to 5 MWp per year.