Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang told the National Assembly last week that the power supply problems would worsen in the coming months, especially in May, the peak of the dry season.
The minister said the problems stem from a lack of water at hydropower dams.
“The water level was so low in the last dry season and up until now the water levels in most hydropower reservoirs such as Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang, and Tri An are even lower than in the same period last year,” he said.
However, due to demands for irrigation the hydropower plants had given water to supply the winter/summer crop in the north. In January and February, the hydropower plants released about three billion cubic metres for the Red River Delta.
“Three billion cubic meters can generate 500 million kilowatts of electricity but due to water demands of the agriculture sector, the hydropower plants have had to release water,” Hoang added.
In the south, Tri An and Ialy hydropower plants have released water to dilute seawater that has made its way into rivers and improve water supply, he added.
The authorities have combined with provinces to complete power projects to increase electricity output as turbine No. 1 of Son La hydropower operated earlier in the year and the second turbine is expected to operate in the middle of next month, helping to add 800MW more to capacity.
In the future, there will be some small hydropower plants and thermal power stations starting operation, Hoang added. In addition, new thermal power plants in Quang Ninh, Haiphong, Cam Pha, and Son Dong which have not operated stably have been repaired and they are expected to start generation in the near future, Hoang added.
Regarding developing thermal power plants, Hoang said in the next few years, thermal power plants would face coal shortages, although the government asked the authority to continue finding new coal mines or widening exploitation at current mines in Quang Ninh province.
“However, due to limited coal reserves, we expect Vietnam to import coal by 2015,” Hoang added. A department was set up by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and other relevant ministries with big corporations like PetroVietnam, Electricity of Vietnam, and Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group at the request of the government to consider importing coal.
The department has sent delegations to explore markets in Australia, Indonesia, and Russia. “For the time being, we can sign deals to import coal and for the longer term, we can cooperate with these countries to tap their coal mines,” Hoang said.