Binh Thuan urges grid upgrade as renewables spike

10:32 | 03/04/2019
With the highest solar energy potential in Vietnam, the ­central province of Binh Thuan has asked the government to take urgent action to upgrade the province’s power grid and minimise conflicts with ongoing wind power projects.
binh thuan urges grid upgrade as renewables spike
Binh Thuan urges grid upgrade as renewables spike, photo Shutterstock

In a document recently sent to the prime minister, Bui Van Thinh, chairman of the Binh Thuan Wind Association, pointed out that the total capacity for both wind and solar power approved in the province was 6,000MW, presenting the issue of an impending grid overload.

Nhat Dinh, a renewable energy expert, said that cities and provinces need to ­develop power plans with the vision towards the next seven to 10 years as well as ­enabling the grid to deal with their future projects.

Back in 2016, when the revised Power Development Plan VII was issued, no ­investors registered any ­interest in developing solar or wind power projects in the central region.

However, under the prime minister’s Decision No.11/2017/QD-TTg enacted in April 2017 on mechanism for encouragement of solar power development in Vietnam, the feed-in tariff (FiT) of 9.35 US cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for solar power has brought about an intense wave of investment, leading to the current overload.

Given the absence of a specific zoning plan for solar power and the lack of ­infrastructure facilities, such projects struggle to get off the ground as the power that the projects would create cannot be generated to the national grid.

Binh Thuan has also stated that many solar power plans under consideration overlap titanium mining projects. As such the solar power schemes can only continue once the zoning plan for titanium mining is adjusted.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Binh Thuan has titanium reserves of 599 million tonnes, ­accounting for 92 per cent of the country’s total titanium reserves. The location of the reserves is also complicating wind power projects. The province also reported that the exploitation of titanium in previous years has caused ­serious pollution to water ­resources and has resulted in water depletion, which is ­particularly bad during the dry season.

The province has also asked the government to offer an incentive of a FiT of 9.35 US cents per kWh following the recent approval given to nearby Ninh Thuan province.

The government has ­issued a resolution allowing solar power projects in Ninh Thuan to enjoy the FiT of 9.35 US cents per kWh for a period of 20 years providing they begin commercial ­operations by the end of 2020. This is an extension of the earlier commercial operation date (COD) deadline of June 30 as set by the prime minister in Decision 11.

The extension of the COD given to Ninh Thuan will give time for the projects that have been approved by the prime minister to reach a combined capacity of 2,000MW.

By Phuong Thu

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