China has become the largest manufacturer of solar power equipment over the last decade, and today they have more solar generation capacity than any other country on the planet.

But there are other places in Asia that would be perfect to install large scale solar farms, and Vietnam is high on that list. Southern Vietnam gets loads of sunlight, and as a nation, Vietnam needs more generation capacity.

For anyone who hasn’t visited the wonderful country of Vietnam, you may not understand how many scooters are on the roads. While some are electric, the vast majority are fueled with gasoline. In fact, many are 2-stroke motors, which create a lot of pollution. Vietnam would be a great place to develop an industry leading electric scooter industry, but they will need a lot more power first.

Lots of Interest

There is no shortage of interest in developing solar facilities in Vietnam, and it appears that the Government there is picking up on the opportunity. Recently the central government of Vietnam created a program to pay a fixed rate for solar power, and they also licensed the first ever all Vietnamese solar generation facility.

Both China and the United States, via John Kerry, have expressed interest in investing in the solar sector in Vietnam, though to date little action as been taken on these offers. There are also coal power plants under development. But on a long term basis, coal simply isn’t competitive with renewable sources.

Both China and Thailand understand the importance of creating low cost energy, and as time goes on the nearly free power that solar offers will give countries a huge competitive advantage.

Why It Works

Renewable power sources are about more than just lowering green house gas emissions. When a country invests in developing the manufacturing infrastructure for solar or wind power, they are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels that are usually imported.

This means a new industry with good jobs, and less dependence on imported fuel sources. Vietnam has shown itself to be a quality producer of electronic components, so there is every reason why a solar industry could develop originally in the sun drenched nation. The new industry could help support long term growth, and work to clean up the skies across the country.

Vietnam has nothing to lose from letting solar power thrive, and if done correctly, they could be the next solar cell manufacturing powerhouse.

By Nicholas Say - - November 19, 2017

Vietnam plans major solar power growth

Over 100 provincial government officials, investors and other stakeholders have gathered in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss policies for the development of solar energy.

”We would like to provide guidance to investors, local governments and financial institutions about how to develop solar energy in Vietnam,” Pham Trong Thuc, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Electricity and Renewable Energy Agency, said in his speech at a workshop on “Introduction of circular 16/2017/TT-BCT on solar power project development and standardized power purchase agreement for solar power projects”.

He explained the contents of the circular and took questions from participants.

Consultants from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) shared the international perspective on solar power development in Vietnam, and made a presentation on international and regional experiences in the technical and financial assessment of solar power projects.

Solar has been high on the agenda in Vietnam since the publication of the Prime Minister’s decision 11/2017 in April, which fixed the price for solar power at 9.35 cents/kWh.

It also sets June 2019 as the deadline for solar power plants to be built and connected to the grid to receive the guaranteed solar feed-in tariff (FIT) price.

”In this context, the workshop is an opportunity for local governments to gain deeper understanding of the circular and insights into the latest solar developments, which will be helpful for better assessment and approval of solar power plants at provincial levels,” said Sonia Lioret, head of the GIZ’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project.

Solar projects require high upfront investments. In some provinces, land availability or grid capacity limit the number of projects that can be approved by local and central authorities.

“It is therefore important to carefully assess the general viability of these new solar projects. This includes in particular the choice of site, experience of all parties and contract partners involved in the project and the quality of equipment and installation to avoid project failures or economic underperformance,” Lioret added.

“As solar power is still quite new in Vietnam, and having in mind that all projects have to be built and connected by June 2019, we believe that the combination of local knowledge and international experience will be a great recipe for successful solar power projects”, Rainer Brohm, a German solar energy expert said.

According to the Vietnamese Government’s targets, solar power is expected to become the main new renewable energy source in the future, with an installed capacity to be increased from around 6-7 MW by the end of 2017 to 850 MW by 2020 (equivalent to 1.6 percent of the country’s power generation) and 12,000 MW by 2030 (equivalent to 3.3 percent of the country’s power generation).

Vietnam News Agency - November 5, 2017