US and Vietnam to cooperate in wind power

VNA - Vietnam possesses enormous potential for the development of wind power. However, to fully exploit this renewable source of energy, new incentive policies should be created to promote investment in the field, participants said at a workshop held on February 20 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Phan Trong Thuc, Director of the Renewable Energy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that with more than 3,000km of coastline, many areas in Vietnam are suited for wind turbines, especially in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Bac Lieu provinces.
"The country's total wind power potential on land may reach 7,000-8,000MW," Thuc told the workshop held by the US Consulate in the city and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
US and Vietnamese officials and experts in the field met at the workshop to find ways to popularise and maximise wind resources in Vietnam.
In a national power development master plan to 2020, the Government has set a target to raise the ratio of renewable energy to total national power capacity to 5.6 percent from the current 2.5-3 percent, including 1,000MW from wind power, Thuc said.
The Government also set a target to generate about 6,200MW of wind power by 2030.
"This will be a big challenge for the country to realise the target since only about 54MW of wind power are generated in the country," he said.
To develop its renewable energy as well as wind power potential, the Government in 2011 issued Decision No.37 on supporting the development of wind power projects in Vietnam.
However, support policies, especially electricity prices, have not met investors' expectations, he said.
Pham Thuy Dung, senior expert at the department, said other barriers preventing development of renewable energy projects include no renewable energy law to encourage renewable development, lack of financial resources as well as experts and skillful engineers, and an underdeveloped support industry.
In addition, a lack of database assessment of wind energy potential is another obstacle for the industry, she said.
Thuc said his ministry would review Decision No.37 to make adjustment on wind power price and others. 
He said that the Government by the end of this year would issue an amendment decision of Decision No.37, with wind power prices ensuring profits for investors while protecting social welfare.
Vietnam does not have financial resources to set up funds for supporting renewable energy development as other countries do. 
With a comparatively low per capita income in Vietnam, if the country sets wind power price equal to other countries, it would be hard to ensure social welfare, he said. 
The country, therefore, will consider issuing an appropriate roadmap to ensure interests of both wind power investors and society, he added.
The country will also establish a more comprehensive wind power database as well as make adjustment of feed-in-tariffs and others.
With a shortage in financial resources, professional experts and technology, Vietnam wants to receive support from other countries, including the US, to help it maximise wind power potential, he said.
Speaking at the event, Rena Bitter, US Consul General in HCM City, said the US Government "will bring the best of what we have to offer through support programme and our experience with renewable power projects."
Craig O'Connor, Director Office of Renewable Enenrgy and Environmental Exports at the US Export-Import Bank, said his bank seeks to increase its support for wind power and other renewable projects in Vietnam.
Peter Cowling, general manager of renewable sales in Asia Pacific at GE Power & Water, said wind power would be cheaper than coal, cheaper than gas pipe power. 
"So I think for Vietnamese power security and economic growth, wind power will be a very strong competitor." 
The event was also attended by over 20 developers interested in establishing wind farms in Vietnam. 
According to the Renewable Energy Department, there are 48 registered wind power projects in Vietnam, with a total capacity of 4,876MW, of which three are operating.-VNA