Wind power needs policy support

Friday, Feb 21, 2014 08:30

The Wind Power Plant No.1 in Binh Thuan Province's Tuy Phong District. Experts say new incentive policies are needed to better exploit Viet Nam's wind power potential. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha

HCM CITY (Biz Hub) — Viet Nam possesses enormous potential for the development of wind power.

However, to fully exploit this renewable source of energy, new incentive policies should be created to promote investment in the field, participants said at a workshop held yesterday in HCM City.

Phan Trong Thuc, director of Renewable Energy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that with more than 3,000 km-long coastline, many areas in Viet Nam are suited for wind turbines, especially in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Bac Lieu provinces.

"The country's total windpower potential on land may reach 7,000-8,000MW," Thuc told the workshop held by the US Consulate in HCM City and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

US and Vietnamese state officials and experts in the field met at the workshop to find ways to popularise and maximise wind resources in Viet Nam.

In a national power development master plan to 2020, the Government has set a target to raise the ratio of renewable energy to total national power capacity to 5.6 per cent from the current 2.5-3 per cent, including 1,000MW from wind power, Thuc said.

The Government also set a target to generate about 6,200 MW of wind power by 2030, he said.

"This will be a big challenge for the country to realise the target since only about 54MW of wind power are generated in the country," he said.

To develop its renewable energy as well as wind power potential, the Government in 2011 issued the Decision No.37 on supporting the development of wind power projects in Viet Nam.

However, support policies, especially electricity prices, have not met investors' expectations, he said.

Pham Thuy Dung, senior expert at the Renewable Energy Department, said other barriers preventing development of renewable energy projects include no renewable energy law to encourage renewable development, lack of financial resources as well as experts and skillful engineers, and an underdeveloped support industry.

In addition, a lack of database assessment of wind energy potential is another obstacle for the industry, she said.

Thuc said his ministry would review the Decision No.37 to make adjustment on wind power price and others.

He said that the Government by the end of this year would issue an amendment decision of the Decision No.37, with wind power prices ensuring profits for investors while protecting social welfare.

Viet Nam does not have financial resources to set up funds for supporting renewable energy development as other countries do.

With a comparatively low per capita income in Viet Nam, if the country sets wind power price equal to other countries, it would be hard to ensure social welfare, he said.

The country, therefore, will consider issuing an appropriate roadmap to ensure interests of both wind power investors and society, he added.

The country will also establish a more comprehensive wind power database as well as make adjustment of feed-in-tariffs and others.

With a shortage in financial resources, professional experts and technology, Viet Nam wants to receive support from other countries, including the US, to help it maximise wind power potential, he said.

Speaking at the event, Rena Bitter, US Consul General in HCM City, said the US Government "will bring the best of what we have to offer through support programme and our experience with renewable power projects."

Craig O'Connor, Director Office of Renewable Enenrgy and Environmental Exports at the US Export-Import Bank, said his bank seeks to increase its support for wind power and other renewable projects in Viet Nam.

Peter Cowling, general manager of renewable sales in Asia Pacific at GE Power & Water, said wind power would be cheaper than coal, cheaper than gas pipe power.

"So I think for Vietnamese power security and economic growth, wind power will be a very strong competitor."

The event was also attended by over 20 developers interested in establishing wind farms in Viet Nam.

According to the Renewable Energy Department, there are 48 registered wind power projects in Viet Nam, with a total capacity of 4,876 MW, of which three are operating. — VNS

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