Power consumption surges as summer heats up

By Nguyen Hoai   May 19, 2019 | 07:32 pm PT
Power consumption surges as summer heats up
Vietnam's high temperature in recent weeks makes electricity demand surge. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Vietnam is seeing a surge in electricity demand as summer heat intensifies while water shortage constrains power production.

Last Saturday, power production topped 36,000 MW for the first time, according to the National Load Dispatch Center (NLDC) under Vietnam Electricity (EVN), the national power utility. Consumption on the same day reached the record-high 756.9 million kWh.

Vu Xuan Khu, deputy director of the NLDC said consumption could go up to 800 million kWh a day during May and June as the summer gets hotter.

Last month, Vietnam broke its national high temperature record as the mercury hit 43.4 degrees Celsius in central Ha Tinh Province, according to a forecaster at the French meteorological agency Meteo France. Weather experts have warned that Vietnam should brace for more heat waves this summer.

But electricity production is facing challenges as reservoirs in the central and southern regions are low on water.

With the current water volumes in these reservoirs, the hydropower plants can produce 2 billion kWh , equal to national consumption for three days, Khu said.

EVN is also having difficulties in utilizing other sources like gas and coal. The country’s hydropower potential has almost been fully exploited, oil and gas reserves are running low, and in the last few years it has gone from being a net exporter to net importer of coal.

As demand surges, EVN has been using oil to produce electricity since last month with a total output of 46 million kWh.

The national grid will have its capacity increased by up to 1,400 MW by the end of June with 90 new solar power plants becoming operational.

But this is more like a challenge than opportunity, as technical difficulties in the initial period will not guarantee stability and quality, said Nguyen Duc Ninh, deputy director of NLDC. 

Despite all these challenges, EVN has guaranteed that it will supply enough electricity this year.

Vietnam’s fast economy growth in recently 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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