Water levels at record low in Vietnam's biggest hydropower dam

By Minh Minh   September 20, 2019 | 03:19 am PT
Water levels at record low in Vietnam's biggest hydropower dam
Hoa Binh hydropower project on the Da River in northern Vietnam. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
Reservoirs of Vietnam's biggest hydropower project, built on the Da River, have seen their water levels drop to the lowest ever.

The volume of water at 37 reservoirs of the Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant in the northern province of Hoa Binhhad had fallen to 14.7 billion cubic meters by the end of August, 11.2 billion cubic meters lower than the same period last year and the lowest in the past 30 years, national power utility Vietnam Electricity (EVN) said Thursday.

The Da River is the biggest branch of the Red River, which flows from Yunnan in Southwest China through northern Vietnam to the Gulf of Tonkin, in Vietnam.

This time of the year is normally the peak of the flooding season on the river, but so far, there have been no significant water flow, EVN said, adding that the situation posed serious difficulties for electricity production.

Owned by EVN, the Hoa Binh dam is the second largest in Southeast Asia, measuring 128 meters (420 feet) in height, and 970 meters (3,182 ft) in length.

Power is generated by utilizing eight turbines with a capacity of 240 megawatts. The plant produces up to 8.16 billion kilowatt hours of power annually.

Vietnam's fast economy growth in recent years has made the country hungrier for energy.

In July, the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed plans to increase electricity imports from Laos and China, at 3.6 billion kWh in 2021 and 9 billion kWh in 2023.

Phuong Hoang Kim, director of the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy under the ministry, said electricity consumption has been increasing and will continue to do so while water, coal and gas available for producing power will decrease, presenting a risk of power shortages from 2020 onwards.

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

World Bank country director for Vietnam Ousmane Dione has been cited several times as saying that Vietnam would need to raise up to $150 billion by 2030 to develop its energy sector.

Dione has said that electricity demand in Vietnam would grow by about 8 percent a year for the next decade.

Vietnam is gradually developing its renewable energy sector, which currently accounts for 9 percent of the nation's energy mix now, already surpassing the target of 7 percent set for 2020.

As of this July, the country's solar energy capacity was 4,543 megawatts (MW) and wind power capacity was 626.8 MW, EVN said.

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