Vietnam eyes power imports from China, Laos

By Anh Minh   August 9, 2018 | 11:39 pm PT
Vietnam eyes power imports from China, Laos
Employees of Electricity Vietnam (EVN) working on a substation. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam might have to import power from China and Laos after 2020, says a senior official.

“There is a real risk of power shortages in 2021-2023, and the risk will get higher if consumption surpasses forecasts in the coming years,” Hoang Quoc Vuong, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, told the Vietnam Energy Forum in Hanoi on Thursday. 

Although the sole power distributor Vietnam Electricity (EVN) is currently able to meet the country’s demand, there is a strong likelihood that the increasing needs of a 95-million population outstrip the capacity.

This can happen as early as 2020 if the generators don’t operate well or there is not enough coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to produce power, EVN Deputy Director Ngo Son Hai said at the forum.

While more coal power projects are being built in the south, shortages can happen if these constructions run behind schedule, he noted.

Power shortage will increase by 7.2-7.5 billion kilowatts hours a year in the southern region for each delayed project, Hai said, adding that there were seven underway at present.

Southern provinces need more coal power projects be built to provide over 18,000 megawatts needed in the next five years, but none of them have opened yet, he said.

Deputy Minister Vuong proposed that Vietnam starts importing electricity from Laos and China, to meet rising demand in the country.

Vietnam should also create favorable conditions for renewable power projects, like solar and wind power, be developed near high consumption areas, he said.

Vuong noted encouraging the installation of rooftop solar power systems could be one solution to address the looming power shortage.

To meet the high demand for power, Vietnam needs to produce 278 billion kilowatt hours in 2020, and this number needs to double by 2030, according to EVN.

The country’s installed power capacity is estimated to reach 47,800 megawatts by the end of 2018, 5.4 times that of 2003, making the country second in ASEAN and 25th in the world, EVN said.

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