Vietnam utility cuts power purchases from China

By Nguyen Hoai   September 3, 2016 | 01:39 am PT
Vietnam Electricity refrained from buying electricity from China last month following a surge in domestic output.

Vietnam’s electricity output during the first eight months of this year has increased by 11.2 percent to 117.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), including 1.2 billion kWh imported from China, said the country’s utility group EVN said Saturday.

Hydropower plants which in the first eight months of 2016 generated 32.7 percent of Vietnam's electricity, often face shutdowns during the dry season, causing nationwide outages. Meanwhile, coal has taken over hydro power as the leading source of electricity in the country as it has generated 38.03 percent of the total output so so far this year. 

In response to fast growing demand for power, Vietnam is building more coal-fired thermal plants and buying electricity from neighboring China.

However, EVN said last month it stopped buying power from China for the second month in a row.

The state-run group which started buying electricity from Chinese power plants in the border province of Yunnan in 2004, expects it will not have to import more power from the neighboring country in four consecutive months.

EVN plans to import about 950 million kWh from China to meet the domestic power needs in 2016, down 44 percent from 2015.

EVN said Vietnam's power output is expected to reach 183 billion kWh this year.

The average energy consumption in Vietnam grew 13 percent from 2006-2010, and by about 11 percent from 2011-2015, said Le Tuan Phong, deputy head of the General Directorate of Energy, adding that the country is on the path towards powering itself by 2030.

The country’s power production is expected to grow at an annual rate of 14 percent between 2015 and 2030.

Vietnam is also restructuring its power sector by breaking up its retail power monopoly EVN to develop a competitive retail power market by 2030.

And it is aiming to generate enough energy to power almost every home by 2020 and increase residential solar power usage to 50 percent of households nationwide by 2050.

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