Vietnam calls for private investments in biomass energy

By Tran Quoc Thoai   April 1, 2016 | 05:45 pm GMT+7

Vietnam is urging local and foreign companies to invest in biomass power plants to help meet the country’s renewable energy targets, Pham Trong Thuc, head of the New and Renewable Energy Department, told a conference Thursday.

The country has no biomass plants apart from some sugar processing plants and rice mills that generate electricity for their own use.

The General Department of Energy is working with a South Korean company on a 200MW-300MW biomass power project, using Korean technology and financed by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM), Thuc said.

The two sides are in talks to sign a memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for further cooperation in the field, and it would be ideal if Vietnamese firms considered joining the project, he added.

“But the General Department of Energy is encouraging local and foreign investors to build [biomass power] plants with a minimum capacity of 10MW, because according to our calculations, purchasing machinery and equipment for a plant that size would be the most efficient,” he said.

Investors should also consider building power plants which can use both coal and biomass fuels, as the seasonal inputs of biomass will fluctuate, Thuc said.

Another advantage to developing biomass power plants is that it is a form of renewable energy, and when the regulations decided at the Paris climate conference in 2015 take full effect, investors can sell emissions credits globally, he said.

As for connecting to the national and local grid to sell electricity, a similar mechanism applied to other renewable energy sources would also be used, which asks the developer to build their own electricity lines, Thuc said. He advised investors to build plants near the main electricity grid to reduce the cost of selling the power later.

Electricity generated from biomass energy is expected to account for one percent of the country’s total electricity output by 2020, which will be raised to 1.2 percent by 2025 and 2.1 percent by 2030, according to the adjusted National Power Development Plan for 2011-2020 with a vision to 2030 announced last month.