According to a press release from the conference, experts said when energy demands rise to serve economic development in the long run, Vietnam should use energy sources effectively and tap into different energy resources such as coal, natural gas, wind power, solar power and hydropower to ensure sustainable electricity supplies of affordable prices.

Vietnam should also consider enhancing participation in electricity trading with other countries in Asia besides China and Cambodia, participants said at the conference held by the World Bank and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Since 1990, the rate of Vietnamese people supplied with electricity has picked up from a mere 14% to 98%.

The press release cited Axel Van Trotsenburg, World Bank Regional Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, saying Vietnam has done well in facilitating the people’s access to electricity when almost all of its population has get hooked. “Access to power has also been accompanied by improvements in operational efficiency and service quality,” he continued.

Axel van Trotsenburg added, “The key question on November 5 is how to meet future demand, while also complying with the government’s commitments to reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emission in the context of climate change.”

In total electricity generation of Vietnam, renewable energy has a high share with hydropower accounting for 42%, much higher than that in many other countries. In the future, however, even if Vietnam fully exploits its renewable energy potential, it is still unlikely to be able to meet demands.

A report of Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) showed climate change has heavily affected operations of hydropower plants nationwide.

Across Vietnam there are 74 operational hydropower plants of different sizes with combined capacity of 14,033MW. Under the impact of El Nino, water volumes flowing to reservoirs are dwindling and thus hydropower generation will be only 55.3 billion kWh this year, around 4.5 billion kWh smaller than that of last year.

Many hydropower reservoirs, especially in the southern and Central Highlands regions, will not have sufficient water towards the year-end, which will cause an electricity shortfall of billions of kWh.

The El Nino impact which started late last year and is forecast to last until next year has considerably affected hydropower generation. EVN said reservoirs which might not have enough water for next year’s downstream water demands are Quang Tri, A Vuong, Song Tranh 2, Dak Mi 4, KaNak and Dai Ninh.

With next year’s GDP growth target of 6.5%, generation of commercial electricity must increase by 11% against this year. To ensure sufficient electricity supplies for the country, coal-fired and gas-fired power plants in the southern region will be mobilized in the dry months.

In addition, water of hydropower sources in southern localities will be regulated to maintain high water levels until the end of next April to safeguard the economy from power shortage after then.

In case generators at Vinh Tan 2 and Duyen Hai 1 coal-fired thermal power plants are operated smoothly and supply around 6.2 billion kWh in the dry season, thermal power plants running on oil might not be mobilized.

However, EVN will still have to mobilize nearly 5.2 billion kWh from oil-fired electricity sources next August and September when gas supplies for plants are to be disrupted to allow for gas pipeline maintenance.

(Source: SGT)