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Analysis-Vietnam eyes greener power however count on coal to avoid blackouts

A generic view of Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant, state utility owned by Electricity of Vietnam, in Hoa Binh province

By Francesco Guarascio and Khanh Vu

HANOI/HOA BINH, Vietnam (Reuters) – Lights are off and cooling is down at the head office of Vietnam’s state-run electrical power supplier EVN as the nation’s leading power energy attempts to “lead by example” to prevent a repeat of in 2015’s debilitating blackouts, a main informs visitors.

However lots of companies around Vietnam’s capital Hanoi seem disregarding the call to save power, keeping ornamental however otherwise purposeless neon lights on the exterior of skyscrapers on all night.

The problems in reducing usage show the difficulties dealing with Vietnam a year after abrupt interruptions triggered losses of numerous countless dollars to international producers with financial investments in the Southeast Asian nation.

Vietnam is pursuing a patchwork program of energy-saving procedures, grid upgrades, regulative reforms and a huge boost of coal power as it looks for to avoid electrical power deficiencies, according to federal government information and interviews with authorities and specialists.

However Trinh Mai Phuong, EVN’s interactions director, discusses throughout a media go to that even the greatest facilities upgrade underway, a brand-new $1 billion transmission line linking the centre of the nation to the extremely industrialised north that was hard struck by blackouts in 2015, might not suffice.

“I would not state it is a video game changer,” he stated of the line that might be finished as early as this month, keeping in mind power usage is anticipated to strike record highs in the coming weeks as the nation braces for more heatwaves.

The skyrocketing power need is making it significantly tough for Vietnam to fulfill environment modification dedications while supplying adequate power to please big financiers such as Samsung Electronic Devices, Foxconn and Canon.

Wider sector-wide reforms are required over the longer term, foreign financiers and experts stated.


In the short-term, Vietnam is banking primarily on coal to offer adequate trustworthy electrical power. It might be simply enough – or not – however in either case it might indicate a blow to the nation’s dedications to lower dependence on nonrenewable fuel sources.

Coal usage increased enormously in the very first 5 months of 2024, with coal-fired power plants accounting usually for 59% of electrical power output, surpassing 70% some days, according to EVN information.

That was up from almost 45% in the exact same duration in 2015 and 41% in 2021, when Vietnam started preparing strategies to cut coal that encouraged global donors to dedicate $15.5 billion to assist stage out the fuel.

Thanks to a brand-new coal-fired power plant that came online in 2023, coal represented 33% of overall set up capability in 2015, up from 30.8% in 2020, taking Vietnam even more far from the objective of reducing that to 20% by 2030.

Energy preservation is another essential pillar of the strategy. EVN and its regional systems have actually motivated energy-hungry customers, consisting of foreign producers, to conserve power with customized procedures, specifically in peak hours.

However that dangers Vietnam’s credibility as a reputable location for financial investment and might impact future production growth strategies, according to foreign financiers who decreased to be called due to the fact that they were not authorised to speak to media.

The matter must be resolved by resolving generation and circulation problems, and not from the usage side, 2 foreign financiers stated.

Vietnam’s market ministry did not respond to an ask for remark.


Vietnam is utilizing just a portion of its set up solar and onshore wind capability due mainly to administrative difficulties.

It has actually not authorized policies to kick-start overseas wind jobs and hold-ups pet dog jobs to construct power plants sustained by imported melted gas, which is cleaner than coal.

The 4 energy sources together must represent more than 40% of set up capability by 2030, according to the federal government’s strategies, though experts are sceptical.

Hydropower is forecasted to be up to less than 20% of set up power generation by the end of years from more than 30% in 2020.

However some capability is being included the north where requirements are greater.

Among Vietnam’s biggest hydropower plants at Hoa Binh is including 2 General Electric turbines to its existing 8, which will increase its overall capability to 2.4 gigawatts from less than 2 GW now by the 2nd half of 2025, stated Dao Trong Sang, EVN’s supervisor of the growth task, throughout a check out to the dam.

The Hoa Binh plant, integrated with the brand-new transmission line that brings electrical power to the north from different plants, might include 8% capability to the power-hungry north.


The power crisis cannot be fixed without long-awaited reforms, specialists state, though development to date has actually been sluggish.

In April, the market ministry provided an upgraded approach for figuring out electrical power rates, an action towards potentially restoring jobs stuck for many years due to the fact that of an absence of clearness about tariffs.

Nevertheless, the approach might require designers to carry extreme danger, complicating their access to fund, stated a Vietnam-based authorities who decreased to be called due to the fact that they were not authorised to speak to media.

A different draft decree allowing producers to purchase electrical power straight from manufacturers is viewed as near approval after years of internal argument, according to a number of experts.

Using direct power purchase contracts (DPPAs) might make it simpler for international business to prevent greater tariffs on exports and increase using renewables to assist them fulfill ecological, social and governance requirements.

However the DPPA guidelines require to be integrated with other reforms, such as clearer arrangements to straight link factories to power-generation jobs, the authorities stated.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Khanh Vu; Modifying by Jamie Freed)

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