Vietnam's offshore wind farm appoints world-class consultant to conduct environmental and social impact assessment

15:26 | 15/12/2020 Economy

In October 2020, NIRAS was awarded a multi-million US dollar contract to conduct an international standard Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the 3.5GW La Gan offshore wind farm in Binh Thuan Province of Vietnam. The La Gan project is being jointly developed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), Asiapetro and Novasia, and is expected to be one of the first large-scale offshore wind farms in Vietnam. 

NIRAS, an international group headquartered in Denmark, provides technical expertise and results-oriented project management focusing on climate change, finance, green economy, grid integration of renewables, using renewable energy. NIRAS has extensive global experience in conducting ESIAs for offshore wind farms and has been involved in the industry since the first offshore wind farm was developed at Vindeby in Denmark in 1991. NIRAS will work closely with several Vietnamese sub-contractors to deliver the services, including the Power Engineering Consulting JSC. No. 3 (PECC3), Vietnam Petroleum Institute - Center for Petroleum Safety and Environment (VPI-CPSE), Wild Tour & Research Service Co., LTD (Bird Vietnam), and the Center of Help for Indigenous Value Promotion and Sustainable Environment (CHIASE).

vietnams offshore wind farm appoints world class consultant to conduct environmental and social impact assessment
The signing ceremony of the ESIA contract for the La Gan offshore wind project at the Embassy of Denmark in Hanoi

Vietnam has a huge potential when it comes to offshore wind energy. Findings from the cooperation between the Danish Energy Agency and the Vietnamese Electrcity and Renewable Energy Authority show that Vietnam has a potential for 160 GW of offshore wind. Particularly where land is in short supply or where onshore wind speeds are not sufficient, offshore wind allows communities to access a clean, renewable and reliable electricity source. When fully operational, the La Gan offshore wind farm will supply clean energy to a significant number of Vietnamese households and businesses.

As a first step in the ESIA process, NIRAS and our subcontractors will conduct extensive research and analysis on existing environmental conditions and investigate how the wind farm area is currently used by the community. Data will be gathered from a variety of sources including local and international databases. Onshore and offshore field research will be carried out where information is dated or lacking. Such site measurements are typically taken over a period of up to 12 months.

Some of the activities to be carried out by NIRAS include: sampling of the seabed and water using traditional and state of the art underwater cameras, to record plants and animal life and their environment; recording of seabirds, whales and dolphins numbers and their behaviours; recording of intertidal and land-based plants and animals; analysis of geophysical data (via images of the seabed) to investigate submerged archaeology and cultural heritage; analysis of marine traffic data and existing shipping patterns; engagement with fishing communities to understand how and where they utilise the local sea area; engagement with the wider community with particular attention given to vulnerable groups; and 3D design modelling to demonstrate what the wind farm will look like from the shore and notable viewpoints.

vietnams offshore wind farm appoints world class consultant to conduct environmental and social impact assessment
Black-naped tern, one of important seabird species in Vietnam

These topics will be researched using local dedicated professional working alongside internationally recognised experts in their fields. Particular attention will be paid to species and habitats of international importance. The analysis and recommendations will be scrutinised by the Vietnamese Government and investors to ensure that the project’s impact is minimized.

The role of NIRAS is to ensure this offshore wind farm project is developed in the right place, environmental and community impact is minimized, and ultimately; clean, renewable and reliable electricity are delivered to the people of Binh Thuan. In the process extensive skills and knowledge will be transferred to Vietnamese companies, who will gain valuable insight into Binh Thuan offshore conditions, and learn about offshore wind, which will allow these companies to develop and service future offshore wind projects in Vietnam.

"Across our global portfolio, we strive to conduct our Environmental and Social Impact Assessments to the highest international standards, even when they are above local requirements. We are committed to supporting local suppliers and building environmentally friendly wind farms that promote the welfare, livelihood and sustainability of our local communities," said Michael Hannibal, Partner at CIP.

"NIRAS is extremely proud to be selected as the ESIA contractor for a pioneering project in a dynamic new market, by a consortium including one of the world's leading offshore wind developers," said Tim Norman, Director of NIRAS.

The La Gan wind power project in Tuy Phong District, Binh Thuan Province is one of the first large-scale offshore wind power projects in Vietnam. With an expected capacity of up to 3.5GW, the estimated total investment capital for all project phases is about US$10.5 billion. The project is being developed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) together with the Asian Petroleum Energy Joint Stock Company (Asiapetrol) and Novasia Energy Company Limited (Novasia Energy).

The project started to be implemented in 2019, and with the approval of the People's Committee of Binh Thuan Province to conduct offshore surveys in 2020, has achieved significant progress. The project has established a project development company in Vietnam and has received its business registration license. The project is in the process of signing office leases and will officially open its office in Binh Thuan Province in early 2021.