Survey overlap potential irks wind power developers

September 14, 2022 | 09:00
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Due to several legal pitfalls, conflicts may occur among wind power investors, both onshore and off, as they take part in surveying activities for their potential projects.

The northern province of Lang Son attracted both foreign and local investors showing interest in building wind power projects. Most said Lang Son would be the most suitable area in the northern provinces, especially in districts like Loc Binh, Dinh Lap, Van Lang, and Binh Gia.

Local authorities may have to strengthen regulations so developers are not at odds over wind surveys, Le Toan
Local authorities may have to strengthen regulations so developers are not at odds over wind surveys. Photo: Le Toan

GE proposed Lang Son People's Committee to allow the survey of two wind power projects with a total capacity of up to 418MW and approval to build two wind measuring towers in Chi Lang district for the 165MW Chi Lang project, as stated in a local authorities’ document in May.

According to the document, duplicate surveys could cause legal consequences among investors. “As far as we know, other provinces in the country do not allow duplicate research between projects,” the document noted.

The document came as TRE JSC intended to carry out a wind measurement survey for which GE was already surveying.

Lang Son wants to become a hub for wind energy in the northern region. A report by the Institute of Energy on the overall wind power development in Lang Son mentioned that it is necessary to have a clear policy on prioritising land use as there is a conflict between the purposes of resource exploitation and other activities such as agriculture, forestry, and tourism. However, the report did not discuss the conflict between investors.

Lang Son plans to launch 27 wind power projects during 2030 with a total capacity of 3.57GW. Some highlighted ones are the Dinh Lap 1 wind power plant with a capacity of 100MW, the Dinh Lap 4 wind facility with a capacity of 126MW, and the Dinh Lap 2C plant with a capacity of 350MW.

After 2030, eight of these projects would then be tendered with a total capacity of about 1.12GW, including some notable plants such as T&T OCG Loc Binh with a capacity of 200MW and Loc Binh 2 with a capacity of 150MW.

Nguyen Xuan Huy, head of research and development at IPC Group, a contractor for many RE energy projects in Vietnam, said that current related risks include geopolitical issues, overlapping of oil and gas blocks and offshore wind blocks, legal issues in the licensing of marine space, and an unclear distinction between nearshore and offshore wind power.

In addition, technical risks include geological structure, environmental impact, and the impact of waves, wind, and storms. Economic risks include power purchase agreement contracts, electricity prices, iron and steel prices, turbines, and bank interest rates.

“These barriers should be managed to reduce risks for investors,” Huy said.

It is not only the onshore wind segment that faces planning and survey issues. The National Steering Committee for Electricity Development has admitted that wind, solar, and gas power sources face great difficulties despite past advances, as planning has not been effectively managed. The investment licencing period is prolonged and, to date, there is no marine spatial plan for offshore wind power.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the demand for wind measurement, geological, and topographic surveys at sea among organisations and individuals is high. And Tran Quoc Dien, deputy general director of Power Engineering Consulting JSC 3, said at a recent wind conference that renewable energy development is hotter than ever.

He suggested that to avoid conflicts, local authorities should assign investors to survey within a certain time. “After that time, if investors do not follow their commitments, other investors would be welcome,” Dien noted.

To attract capital in Vietnam’s offshore wind power, it is necessary to develop a strict and transparent legal framework to provide clearer guidance to assist investors, Dien added. “Along with that, it is necessary to develop a domestic supply chain to support the sector, strengthen the grid reinforcement, and finish the Power Development Plan VIII.”

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By Phuong Thu

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