The positive power of water

An alternative view of hydroelectric plants

15:09 | 09/09/2017 Energy

(VEN) - Tran Viet Ngai, chairman of the Vietnam Energy Association (VEA) has proposed the National Assembly as well as the government in order to reconsider the decision to cancel construction of 400 planned small, medium hydropower projects and allow investment in them to resume.

an alternative view of hydroelectric plants

The projects were scrapped from the hydropower development program after it transpired that many of the hydropower plants built in the 2010-2014 period had negatively affected their forest environment.

However, according to Ngai, over 300 small and medium hydropower projects have been built with total capacity of 4,000 MW, which provide 10 billion kWh of electricity to the national grid every year.

He emphasized that many of these projects are operating in a stable manner, while forests have been replanted and local residents have been effectively resettled and resumed their lives.

According to the government’s goals, to meet surging demand for power resulting from urbanization and industrialization, the power sector must generate 265 billion kWh of electricity by 2020 and 570 billion kWh of electricity by 2030. The country currently produces more than 170 billion kWh of commercial electricity, mostly from fossil energy sources such as coal and gas that are being increasingly exhausted.

Authorities should also consider the fact that the annual operating and maintenance costs of small and medium-sized hydropower plants are much lower than those of other types of power plants, Ngai said.

He believes the list of cancelled projects should be reviewed. These must be projects with high economic efficiency and high capacity (over 30 MW). The projects would be useful as they can provide electricity to remote areas, thus easing the overload on the national grid.

Small and medium-sized hydropower plants can also greatly benefit local economies and help ease electricity shortages. However, these projects need to be assigned to capable investors, he said.

The projects should be resumed only if the investors can strictly follow the procedures of building and ensuring the stable and effective operation of water reservoirs, and minimizing deforestation.

According to Phan Duy Phu, deputy director of the Hydropower Department of the General Directorate of Energy, in order to develop small and medium hydropower plants in a sustainable way, it would be better to decentralize to local industry departments.

Vietnam needs to continue to improve and adopt mechanisms and policies to attract investment in the development of power sources, and promulgate national standards and specialized criteria related to design and operation of renewable energy sources.

According to the Vietnam Energy Association, if 300-400 additional small- and medium-sized hydropower plants were built, they would add total capacity of 3,000-4,000 MW of hydropower, or 15 billion kWh of electricity per year.

Phuong Tam