The country’s first solar power station, the facility is expected to start generating electricity in July next year.

The solar plant, which will cost around US$36.12 million to build, will export approximately 28,000,000 kWh of clean electricity to the country’s mains grid annually. The plant will use solar panels imported from Thailand.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday – attending the event were Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and many other government officials.

The project is led by Tianjin Co.; which also plans to develop a further 1,000 MW solar power capacity in the country.

The Encyclopedia of Earth states nearly a quarter of Vietnam’s domestic energy consumption comes from oil, with hydropower (10 percent), coal (20 percent), and natural gas (11 percent) making up the remainder.

Solar uptake in Vietnam has been reasonably slow to date and as in other countries where a significant chunk of the population lives in areas without access to reliable electricity, much of it has been in the form of small off-grid solar power system installs. Energypedia states by the end of 2014, there were approximately 15,000 small scale PV off-grid applications with a total capacity of 3,600 kWp throughout the country.

A project mapping solar resources in Vietnam (PDF) shows an average GHI of 4-5 kWh/m2/day in most regions in the southern, central and parts of the north of the country. Some southern regions experience peak irradiation levels of up to 5.5 kWh/m2/day on average.

Vietnam also has significant wind resources. Currently only 54MW is operational, but the country aims to have 1,000 megawatts of wind energy in place by 2020. Earlier this year, construction commenced on a 120-megawatt wind farm in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Vietnam has set a target of 20% of the country’s electricity being sourced from renewable energy by 2030. The nation is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and electricity demand is expected to see average annual growth between 11% and 16% until 2020.

Energy Matters - August 31, 2015