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Việt Nam’s long road to energy security

Update: December, 13/2018 - 10:24
Lê Văn Lực. — Photo baohaiquan.vn

Lê Văn Lực, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Electricity and Renewable Energy in Việt Nam tells Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper that it will take at least a decade for the nation to achieve full energy security

Will you give us an overall picture of Việt Nam’s main energy resources?

Việt Nam has had two major energy plans. The first, which was known as electricity plan VI, covered the period from 2006-2011 with a vision to 2025. The next one – plan VII – is for 2011-2020 with a vision to 2030.

Two years ago, in 2016, the Prime Minister issued a decision to adjust plan VII.

Việt Nam electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants, thermal power plants – including coal and gas turbine plants – renewable energy, nuclear energy and imported electricity. We hope with diverse sources of energy, Việt Nam will have energy security and stability. By 2030, Việt Nam will need over 500 billion kWh. In 2017, we produced nearly 180 billion kWh. So in the upcoming decade and beyond, the energy sector has to work hard to meet the production targets. At the same time, we need to maintain reasonable electricity tariffs while protecting the environment.

In the Prime Minister’s adjustment of the energy plan, he emphasised the development of renewable energy and the need to cut down on thermal power plants. According to the adjusted plan, the amount of electricity generated by coal power plants will be cut by about 20,000MW while increasing the production of renewable energy by 6-7 per cent to about 20 per cent of total output.

Among the energy sources in the country, hydroelectric power has the most advantages among the energy sources with low production costs. However, by now we have already utilised all of the country’s major rivers to generate electricity. Should we consider tapping small rivers? It remains a question without an answer as the cost of electricity from small hydropower plants will be high.

Thermal plants account for 16-17 per cent of the country’s total output, while the gas for thermal electricity is mainly produced in southern and southeastern provinces.

Regarding renewable energy, right now we use solar and wind energy only in Ninh Thuận, Bình Thuận and Đắk Lắk provinces. But the biggest disadvantage in renewable energy is that electricity tariffs are high. This is food for thought in the course of developing these sources of clean energy.

Last but not least, Việt Nam has already bought electricity from China and in a near future will purchase from Laos. But costs are very high compared to our current domestic electricity tariffs.

More recently, many people have complained about the negative impact of thermal power plants on the environment. What’s your point of view on this?

It is indisputable that thermal power plants have played an important role in supplying electricity to Việt Nam and the rest of the world. How to solve the problem of pollution remains a big question for the authorities. All thermal power plant projects have to report on their environmental impact and propose measures to handle them in accordance with the Government’s environmental criteria.

In recent years, in many places, people have made construction bricks from waste disposed by thermal plants.

Do you think renewable energy will replace traditional energy sources in the near future?

Nowadays energy comes from various sources including hydroelectric power plants, thermal power plants and nuclear power plants. Quite a few countries have started using renewable energy from the wind and the sun.

Electricity production in Việt Nam gains an average of 11 per cent per year. But it is forecasted that in the coming years, gains will drop to about 9 per cent per annum.

It is too early for Việt Nam to achieve its goal of electricity security. But we aim to further develop the use of renewable energy. — VNS

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