Vietnam needs more efficient energy sources to meet rising power demand: conference

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Vietnam needs more efficient energy sources to meet rising power demand: conference

Greater energy efficiency, expansion in renewables, and increased power trading in Asia could help Vietnam meet its rising power demand through 2030, participants at a conference said on Wednesday. The event, held in the central city of Da Nang, discussed solutions to enable Vietnam to deal with a 7-10 percent annual increase in power demand expected for the next 15 years, according to the World Bank.

As power demand grows, Vietnam needs to boost energy efficiency and tap into various energy sources, including coal, natural gas, wind, solar and hydropower, to ensure sustainable, reliable and affordable power supply, according to experts.

The country can also consider stronger participation in regional power trade.

“Vietnam has set a priority on developing the power sector to meet the demand of socio-economic development, to ensure national security and power security, as well as to meet the demand of public consumption,” Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai told the event.

“Thanks to that vision and the power sector’s efforts, Vietnam’s national power grid has remarkably improved. It now can meet the socio-economic development demand with higher quality and greater reliability in power distribution.”

In 1990, only 54 percent of the Vietnamese population had access to electricity, and the proportion is now 98 percent, according to the deputy premier.

Over two decades, ten million households, with 40 million people, have gained access to electricity, mainly through rural electrification under the national poverty reduction program.

“Few countries have achieved so much in so little time, despite challenging topography,” Deputy Prime Minister Hai said.

Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank vice president for East Asia Pacific, hailed Vietnam’s efforts in providing access to electricity, as almost 100 percent of the country’s population is now connected.

Access to power has also been accompanied by improvements in operational efficiency and service quality, he added.

“The key question today is how to meet future demand, while also complying with the government’s commitment to reducing GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions, in the context of climate change,” he pressed.

Vietnam has a high share of renewable energy in the total generation mix, with hydropower accounting for 42 percent of power generation, much higher than that of many other countries, according to the World Bank.

The conference highlighted that Vietnam can further develop its solar and wind potential, but this will require improvement in the regulatory framework.

However, even if Vietnam fully taps into its potential in renewable energy, it may still not be able to fully meet future energy demand, according to participants.

Greater efficiency in the generation, transmission and distribution of energy will thus be critical, whereas regional power trade is also among the huge potential benefits, they said.

Low-carbon development could boost growth

Participants at the conference also discussed low-carbon development and whether Vietnam could pursue a path of continued economic growth without an expansion in carbon emissions.

It is estimated that the low-carbon development scenario would not adversely affect economic growth in Vietnam and may instead boost growth in the long run, according to the “Exploring a Low-Carbon Development Path for Vietnam” report released at the event.

The report’s conclusion was based on the evidence that growth and a clean environment can be realized simultaneously and can be mutually reinforcing over time.

Vietnam continues to be committed to supporting competition in the power sector and the government has set out a clear roadmap for developing the Wholesale Electricity Market, which is to be fully operational by 2021.

“To ensure the financial sustainability of the power sector, Vietnam needs to promote effective competition and ensure large public and private sector investment,” said Anita Marangoly George, the senior director, energy and extractives, with the World Bank.