Vietnam to import more electricity from Laos, China

By Anh Minh   July 17, 2019 | 10:00 pm PT
Vietnam to import more electricity from Laos, China
A worker fixes electricity grid in Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta city of Can Tho. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Vietnam plans to import electricity to overcome the imminent electricity shortage caused by delays in building new power plants.

At a meeting on energy issues held Wednesday, Phuong Hoang Kim, director of the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, cited data showing 47 out of 62 proposed energy projects with above 200 MW capacity are behind schedule.

Since electricity consumption would continue to increase while water, coal and gas available for producing power are expected to decrease, there is a risk of a shortage from 2020, he said.

The shortage is estimated to be 6.6 billion kWh in 2021, nearly 10 billion kWh in 2022 and 15 billion kWh in 2023.

To partially mitigate the problem, the ministry said it would increase electricity imports from Laos and China. Specifically, Vietnam has planned to import 3.6 billion kWh in 2021 and 9 billion kWh in 2023. 

Hoang Quoc Vuong, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said however that increasing electricity imports is only a temporary solution and stressed the need to speed up work on major power projects.

Vuong said many energy projects are two to three years behind schedule mainly because of difficult procedures for land acquisition and compensation, which makes it harder to get funding for them.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said: "We must clarify the roles of corporations in the very slow implementation of projects. We must also review the responsibilities of investors in build-operate-transfer projects as some deliberately cause delays to sell their projects."

He said there must be a specific mechanism for key energy projects and instructed the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy with drafting a detailed proposal on his suggestion for submitting to the government for approval.

Vietnam’s fast economy growth in recent years makes the country hungry for energy.

World Bank country director for Vietnam Ousmane Dione said at a recent forum that Vietnam would need to raise up to $150 billion by 2030 to develop its energy sector.

Dione added that electricity demand in the country is set to grow by about 8 percent a year for the next decade.

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