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Vietnam Has Placed a Moratorium on Expanding Grid-Connected PV and Wind Generation Capacity for 2022

published: 2022-01-20 9:30

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade announced on January 10 that no new generation capacity based on solar PV and wind power will be incorporated into the country’s grid system during 2022 due to the existing infrastructure bottleneck. This story was first reported by the country’s news agencies. In recent years, many renewable energy projects have been set up in Vietnam. However, there are many difficulties that hinder their grid connection efforts.

A meeting was held at Vietnam’s National Load Dispatch Center on January 10 to review the dynamics of the country’s energy market during the previous year. Nguyen Trong Hung, who is the deputy director of the center, said that the country’s annual total electricity production for 2022 is projected to grow by 7.9% from 2021 to 275.5 billion kWh. This figure includes output from domestic power plants, output from other domestic generation assets (including rooftop PV systems), and imported electricity.

Among various renewable energy sources, hydropower has been heavily developed by the Vietnamese. The report from the dispatch center reveals that the country’s annual total hydropower output for 2022 is projected to increase by 3.8 billion kWh from 2021 to 82.5 billion kWh. Vietnam and its neighboring countries have been aggressively building hydropower dams in their own sections of the Mekong River. Although hydropower is a clean source of energy, dam-building activities along the Mekong River have created many other environmental problems. Also, with climate change affecting the water levels of the major rivers around the world, the benefits of hydropower dams have significantly diminished.

Regarding solar PV, the installed generation capacity in Vietnam has expanded rapidly. In fact, the pace of capacity growth has been much faster than anticipated. On the other hand, some media outlets and renewable energy organizations have reported that only a small fraction of the installed capacity has been interconnected.

While the decision to place a moratorium on adding new renewable generation capacity has been made, two new thermal power plants will come online this year. They are Nghi Son 2 and Song Hau 1. Both are coal-fired power plants, and each of them currently has a generation capacity of about 600MW.

The deputy director pointed out that with more renewable energy projects entering operation, maintaining the stability of the wider grid system has become increasingly challenging. There will be even more operational challenges for the newly-built renewable generation facilities during 2022 since the grid is already accommodating too many of these kinds of assets. The Vietnamese government will have to set up additional dispatching facilities and upgrade the country’s transmission infrastructure before allowing more wind farms, PV power plants, and rooftop PV systems (on homes, farmhouses, etc.) into the grid. According to local news outlets, works have commenced on new transformers and transmission lines around the country.

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