This summer, power cuts may become a major issue in the southern region, Tran Viet Ngai, president of the Viet Nam Energy Association, informs the Vietnam News Agency.
Viet Nam Electricity Group (EVN) forecasts that the demand for electricity throughout the country in the second quarter may increase to 21–22,000 MW-a big challenge for the EVN to ensure a stable electricity supply, particularly in May, June and July. Do you agree?
Well, in my opinion, the demand of 21–22,000 MW during summer (dry season in the south) is not a concern. Why? Because the capacity of the whole system has already reached 34,000 MW. However, during the 2014 dry season, what we are worried about is the stable supply of electricity to the southern provinces.
As we are all aware, the main source of electricity in the south comes from the north and the central regions. A more than 1,500-kilometre electricity transmission line connecting the north and central regions to the south poses many risks. At present, we have two pairs of 500 kV north–south transmission lines. Thus, if a problem occurs in one line, without a doubt, an electricity shortage will occur in the southern provinces.
Besides the electricity transmitted from the north, power plants in the south produce about 15,000 MW of electricity. Of this amount, 10,000 MW are produced by thermo power plants. However, this source of heat energy is not stable, which is a major concern for the power supply there.
In reality, power outages have occurred several times due to problems in the north–south 500 kV transmission line in the last few years. Do you think it may happen again during the dry season?
At present, the two pairs of north–south 500 kV transmission lines are in very good condition. Only one incident was reported in May last year in the Tan Dinh sub-station in Ho Chi Minh City due to a short circuit. The technicians took several hours to repair this short circuit.
There are various reasons leading to power outages, including the EVN's decision to cut the power at certain sub-stations at peak hours to protect the transmission line from getting overloaded.
However, according to our association's assessment, the EVN has invested quite a large sum of money to have good transmission and distribution systems.
Thus, I believe there will not be frequent power cuts as in the past.
The Pleiku–My Phuoc–Cau Bong 500 kV transmission line and their sub-stations are expected to be put into commission before the dry season this year.
But until now, land clearance has not been settled in some localities. Do you think the delay will have a negative impact on the supply of electricity to the south in the dry season?
By late April, only about 10 km of land was not cleared. I am confident that in just a few days, everything will be alright and the Pleiku–My Phuoc–Cau Bong 500 kV transmission line will have been completed. With its 2,000 MW capacity, the transmission line will help ease the shortage of electricity in May, June and July or in the dry season in the southern provinces.
Will you please tell us a bit about the development strategy of the electricity sector in the future?
Viet Nam has set a target of producing 75,000 MW of electricity by 2020-double the current figure.
To achieve this target, energy corporations, including the EVN, the Petro Viet Nam, and the Viet Nam National and Mineral Industry Group, have pooled their efforts to build a series of coal-fired power plants along the country's coastal line, from the north to the south. In addition, Viet Nam has started the construction of a nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan central province.
We hope that by 2020, the problem of power shortages in Viet Nam will not exist. However, the construction of the chain of coal-fired power plants will need $128 billion. I do not believe we have such a large sum. We need foreign investment to turn this plan into a reality.
But, until now, none of the foreign investors have actually invested in power generation in Viet Nam for a very simple reason-our electricity tariff is very low compared to the production cost.
This is food for thought for the government and the relevant ministries. A reasonable tariff will be the key to attracting foreign investors to invest in the power-generation sector.
What is more important is that there will be no more power cuts due to line overloads. — VNS