Siemens boosts the solar industry in Vietnam

October 22, 2018 | 14:41
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Vietnam is searching for new methods to produce clean energy, and solar power is considered one of the key sources of energy for the future of the country. Pham Thai Lai, president and CEO of Siemens Vietnam, talked with VIR’s Thanh Tung about how Vietnam can soon realise this dream, with solar power projects finding popularity.
siemens boosts the solar industry in vietnam
Pham Thai Lai

How can we achieve a balance between the increasing demand for energy supply and the utmost need for reduction of CO2 emissions?

Energy is one of the basic foundations for economic growth and social progress. Our prosperity is based on energy, as are the possibilities for advancing the wellbeing of humankind. However, today more than one billion people worldwide still have no or insufficient access to electricity.

This means that global energy supplies have to be developed and secured. But it also means that reliable energy supplies can’t be provided at the cost of our environment. Today, power generation accounts for 25 per cent of the CO2 emissions worldwide. As a consequence, in order to reach the Paris climate goal target, more electricity must not mean a further increase in CO2.

In Vietnam, the demand for energy increases around 10 per cent per annum in average, while emissions have been rising at a robust rate over the last decade. According to the International Energy Agency, between 2006 and 2015, Vietnam’s energy-related CO2 emission has risen by an annual average of 10 per cent due to rapid growth in its economy and in energy consumption. It is challenging for Vietnam to reduce CO2 emissions while simultaneously meeting robust energy demands in order to further secure economic growth to become industrialised nation in the near future. But, this is achievable with the use of green and efficient energy generation and smart transmission technologies.

Cleaner energy generation is possible today via highly-efficient gas-fired power plants - in particular, combined cycle power plants and renewable technologies such as wind and solar power.

Talking about solar power in particular, what do you see as opportunities for the country? Are recent incentives by the Vietnamese government attractive enough to foreign investors?

The potential for development of solar energy in Vietnam is huge. The Vietnamese government has recognised this potential and aims to significantly increase the share of solar power from around seven megawatts (MW) by mid-2016 to 850MW by 2020, 4,000MW by 2025, and 12,000MW by 2030.

And in order to attract solar power investors the government has issued Decree No.11/2017/QD-TTg on mechanisms for encouraging the development of solar power in the country, offering a feed-in-tariff for utility solar power plants of 9.35 US cents per kilowatt hour for a period of 20 years.

Thanks to this decree we already see a positive impact on the solar power market, especially a significant pool of investments over the last 14 months. However, there are a number of further measures that need to be addressed, such as the relatively low electricity price, lack of photovoltaic knowledge and experience, lack of financing, as well as the inadequacy of existing smart grid infrastructure able to handle fluctuating power generation.

So how can Siemens support the development of the solar power industry in Vietnam?

In order to enable solar panels to be efficiently connected to the power grid and to reliably produce energy under rough climate conditions, Siemens is supporting solar power producers with our Photovoltaic electrical Balance of Plant solution.

This new solution for photovoltaic installations enables solar power to be intelligently integrated into the grid. It includes all necessary electro technical equipment for photovoltaic systems and even complete microgrids, along with comprehensive offerings for complete end-to-end planning, engineering, and financing, all the way to commissioning and service.

Currently, we are working with a number of solar power developers to realise a number of projects in the central part of Vietnam, and the biggest project is the one with Trung Nam Group. Being inked in July, the project is record-breaking, not only because Trung Nam will be the largest solar farm in Vietnam, but because it marks the first photovoltaic project for Siemens in Southeast Asia. The farm has a capacity of 204MW peak and will deliver up to 425 gigawatt hours per year. This is enough to supply approximately 200,000 households with electricity and saves around 250,000 tonnes of CO2. We are pleased to partner with Trung Nam Group for this truly remarkable benchmark project, and we are highly committed to boosting the solar power industry for a clean and environmentally-friendly Vietnam.

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