New Wind Farm Part of Vietnam's Energy Transition

Vietnam’s renewable energy goals are taking a step forward with the installation of a wind farm that will feature the largest onshore wind turbine installed in the country to date.

China’s Shanghai Electric in February announced its subsidiary, Electric Wind Power, will supply its advanced wind turbines to joint venture partners Hai Anh Wind Power Co., IPC Construction Joint Stock Co., and Asia Industrial Technology Joint Stock Co. for the Hai Anh Wind Farm Project in Quang Tri Province. The wind farm, covering an area of 855.25 hectares (about 2,110 acres), will have a generation capacity of 40 MW and will feature eight of Electric Wind Power’s WH5.25-172 wind turbines.

Officials with Electric Wind Power said the farm’s foundation anchor components were delivered this month, with turbine delivery expected in June, and installation completed by the end of August. The wind farm is expected to be connected to Vietnam’s power grid by November of this year.

Belt and Road Initiative

The company said the project is part of Electric Wind Power’s support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and also is part of Vietnam’s strategy to develop more renewable energy power generation. Officials said the Hai Anh Wind Farm Project “is poised to become a model for green development” in Vietnam.

“The company’s global green energy development strategy facilitates the transnational flow of clean and efficient energy while increasing the energy supplies of partnering countries,” Electric Wind Power said in a news release. “This optimizes the local energy consumption structure and drives green and low-carbon development around the globe.”

Officials from Shanghai Electric, Electric Wind Power, Hai Anh Wind Power, IPC Construction Joint Stock, and Asia Industrial Technology Joint Stock participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in February for the Hai Anh Wind Farm Project in Vietnam. Source: Shanghai Electric

Vietnam has committed to a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; officials have said the country needs to rapidly increase its renewable energy generation capacity to meet that goal. BloombergNEF in a summary of a report from the group published in October 2023 said, “energy derived from utility-scale solar is already cheaper than building new coal and gas power plants in Vietnam. The levelized cost of electricity [LCOE]—the financial measure used by developers and investors—for a new utility-scale solar project in Vietnam ranges from $53-105 per megawatt-hour today, in comparison to $84-104/MWh for a combined cycle gas turbine [or CCGT], and $75-94/MWh for a coal power plant.”

BloombergNEF in its summary said, “By 2030, solar paired with batteries will achieve a cheaper LCOE than new thermal power plants, while electricity from onshore wind paired with batteries would also become cheaper by the first half of the 2030s. Although these types of hybrid power plants are not as dispatchable as coal or gas, so cannot be switched on or off when needed, they do offer greater dispatchability than renewables alone, and so can help Vietnam achieve a higher share of clean energy.”

Carolina Chua, a co-author of the BloombergNEF report, at the time said, “Renewable energy is now both an economic and sustainable choice for Vietnam. “Renewables can improve the country’s energy security by lowering its dependence on LNG [liquefied natural gas] and coal imports, while also creating new job opportunities. Our sensitivity analysis shows that even if fossil fuel prices decline, renewables will still be more cost-effective than thermal power plants.”

Power Development Plan

The Vietnamese government in May 2023 released the country’s Power Development Plan VIII, or PDP8, covering the period until 2030. The report’s release had been delayed as officials debated the country’s future power mix, with disagreements about the timing of the closure of coal-fired power plants, and the expansion of renewable energy resources. The PDP8 outlines the planning of Vietnam’s future power sources, along with strategies for upgrading the national transmission grid infrastructure.

Officials said planning in the report was based on the thinking that Vietnam’s gross domestic product will grow at a rate of 6.5% to 7.5% annually from 2021 to 2050. As part of the PDP8, Vietnam would cancel about 13 GW of proposed new coal-fired generation capacity, but also would continue construction of another 13 GW of coal units—though all coal-fired generation would be phased out by 2050.

The coal-fired power plants that would be built in the coming years were included in the revised version of the PDP7 report, released in 2020, with those units scheduled to be built before 2030. The PDP8 report, though, stipulated that construction of any new coal-fired power plants without secured financing prior to June 2024 would need to be canceled.

The PDP8 report’s goals for Vietnam include an increase in renewable energy, with solar, wind, and other renewable resources (outside of hydropower) providing at least 32% of the country’s electricity by 2030. The International Trade Administration (ITA), in a report published Jan. 30 of this year, wrote that according to Institute of Energy of Vietnam, “Vietnam is set to face a surge in power demand and consumption over the coming decade, which will have an impact on its energy security. The Government of Vietnam expects power consumption to grow 10-12 % annually through 2030, one of the fastest power consumption growth rates in Asia.”

The ITA wrote that, according to PDP8, “the total power capacity installed by 2030 [in Vietnam] will be about 146,000 MW and rise to more than 416,000 MW by 2045. The proposed capacity that coal will account for about 30,000 MW of power generation in 2030. As coal’s role in power generation diminishes, natural gas, solar and wind will provide a larger percentage.”

Vietnam’s energy plans do not include nuclear power, though the PDP8 does allows for nuclear research. The revised PDP7 from 2020 called for nuclear power capacity of 4,600 MW to be installed by 2030, which would represent 5.7% of Vietnam’s generation mix. Vietnam in 2016 canceled plans for the country’s first nuclear plant, Ninh Thuan, a 4,000-MW facility with four reactors that originally was expected to come online between 2021 and 2025.

The Hai Anh Wind Farm Project will provide a small part of the 21,000 MW of onshore and near-shore wind power proposed in PDP8, which also calls for 7,000 MW of offshore wind power for Vietnam by 2030, according to ITA.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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