VietNamNet Bridge – Since 2015, Vietnam has shifted from an energy exporting country to an importing country. It has to import 3 percent of the primary energy needed, but the figure will rise to 24 percent by 2030.
Nguyen Van Vy from the Vietnam Energy Association warned that if Vietnam doesn’t step up the development of renewable energy, the proportion may be up to 44 percent by 2030 instead of the predicted 24 percent.
Hydropower, the primary source of renewable energy, according to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong, has reached the critical point. Vietnam strives for 21,600 MW of installed capacity by 2020, 24,600 MW by 2025 and 27,800 MW by 2030.
Nearly all rivers have been surveyed for hydropower development with 824 projects with the total capacity of 24,778 MW, or 95.3 percent of the potential. Of these, 17,987 MW has been put into operation, while 165 projects are under construction with total capacity of 3,348 MW.
Scientists still argue about the role of small-scale hydropower plants in the national economy. The plants are believed to ‘do more harm than good’ with benefits smaller than the environmental consequences.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) in the last three years has removed 468 hydropower projects from the national power development plan (8 large and 460 small scale projects). It also refused to consider projects suggested in another 213 potential positions.
Meanwhile, some analysts and economists have recently called on to revive some hydropower projects.
“Restoring small- and medium-scale hydropower projects is a necessity,” said Tran Dinh Thien, head of the Economics Institute, emphasizing that the effective use of hydropower will help reduce the number of coal-fired thermopower plants which are causing big environmental problems.
According to Hoang Quoc Vuong, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Vietnam has great potential for hydropower development with theoretical capacity of 35,000 MW and electricity output of 300 billion kwh per annum.
In 2016, hydropower plants made up 44 percent of capacity and 40 percent of electricity output. The figures were 40 and 40 percent in the first eight months of the year.
Vuong said the resumption of removed hydropower projects is being considered by MOIT.
Nguyen Thanh Cong, Secretary of Muong La District Party Committee, while agreeing on the restoration of small- and medium-scale hydropower projects, said it is necessary to build, manage and operate the projects for the benefit of investors and people.
The Ministry of Science Technology (MST) said to reduce the increasingly high import of energy, Vietnam needs to build a reasonable mechanism to encourage the development of renewable energy. It has suggested removing the fossil fuel subsidization and forcing the owners of emission sources to pay fees.
Developing small-scale hydropower is a big mistake: experts