In that previous post, I was wondering if wind power was about to take off in Vietnam. One and a half years later, the wind farms map shows four projects in operation and five in construction:

Tuy Phong

Tuy Phong wind park

The Tuy Phong onshore wind park in the Binh Thuan province was the first. It has twenty 1.5 MW turbines (Fuhrlander FL MD/77) from Germany). The Vietnamese Renewable Energy Joint Stock Company (REVN) completed the project in 2012. Plans for sixty additional machines seem to be on hold, maybe waiting for better economics.

Phu Quy

Three wind turbines in Phu Quy island(Source: PV Power)

A 6 MW onshore wind-diesel hybrid system, on the Phu Quy island, Binh Thuan province. The 3 * 2MW Vestas V80 turbines were inaugurated in 2014. The Investor PV Power RE (PetroVinam). I would be curious to see the economics of the project: the electricity retail price on the island is higher than on the continent and higher than the official feed-in tariff of 7.8 cent per kWh.

Bac Lieu

Bac Lieu wind farm(source)

The Bac Lieu project in the south west has a 99.2 MW capacity, with sixty two 1.6MW General Electric turbines. They are installed "near-shore". This means in the tidal flats, the area that is sometimes uncovered by the sea. There are better wind and less neighboors, but the civil engineering for windmill foundations in 2 to 3 meters of sand and mud is harder. Foundations cost 1 million USD apiece. Phase 1 was 10 turbines. As a first-of-a-kind project in Vietnam, it took 2 years to install, cost 2.9 million USD/MW, efficiency 25%. Phase 2 was 52 turbines. Took another 2 years, cost 2.4 million USD/MW; efficiency 30%. This project started operation in 2016. As a near-shore project, it benefits from a higher feed in tariff of 9.8 cent / kWh. It illustrates the importance of learning by doing when starting a new industry.

Phu Lac

Phu Lac windpark substation(Source VoV)

The Windpark Phu Lac project, also in Binh Thuan province, has 12 Vestas turbines with a combined capacity of 24 megawatts (MW), for a cost of VND1 trillion (US$46 million), of which 85 per cent comes from the German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KFW). Groundbreaking started in July 2015. It was connected in September 2016.

Economics

The official FiT at 7.8 cent / kWh was computed on the "avoided cost plus externality" basis. EVN agreed that the marginal cost of producing electricity was 6.8 cent/kWh (this is using imported coal), so substituting for wind at that price is theoretically budget-neutral for EVN. A higher level of Feed-in Tariff, about 11.2 cent/kWh, is proposed by GiZ and producers, but many questions remain. The government agreed to use the VN Environmental Protection Fund for the 1 cent/kWh difference in the current FIt, but that fund was supposed to be fed by a percentage of CDM, which does not exist anymore. The Prime Minister has to approves a higher FiT, and ultimately decide who is going to pay.

In my opinion, high FITs are good for kickstarting the sector but not sustainable. Wind power associations claim that their generation costs are competitive, so the only rationale for preferential treatment is to support the initial demonstration projects. Today the costs are higher in Vietnam because the economies of scale have not been realized: infrastructure to manufacture, transport, build, operate and service wind farms is still weak in Vietnam. The FiT should be a program, not a policy, with limits to protect the state budget if it succeed too much. There are many instruments to support the industry.

Conclusion

To sum up, wind power in Vietnam is taking off. Today there are 3 * 2MW + 20 * 1,5 MW + 62 * 1.6 MW that is 6 + 30 + 99 = 135 MW capacity. This is about as much as Thailand, but the wind potential is much better in Vietnam, even if the Feed In Tariff is much lower. Compared to my previous report 18 months ago, opening Bac Lieu phase 2 increased the national capacity by 240%. I am optimistic that in 18 months, the installed capacity will have at least doubled again, because here is over 500MW of projects likely to occur before 2020:

  • In Bac Lieu, the Cong Ly company operating the farm plans to add up 71 turbines of 2MW to the farm, that is a 142MW extension.
  • In Khai Long-Ca Mau, the same company started to build another 100MW of near shore capacity at the southern tip of the country, with plans for 300MW in total.
  • In Tra Vinh, a Korean led project started in February this year to build twenty four 2 MW turbines, with plans to double the capacity to 48MW in phase 2.
  • In Mui Dinh, the groundbreaking ceremony to install sixteen turbines for 37MW was held in September last month.

References: This post is inspired by two presentations I attended at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop on best practices for wind development in the APEC region. With special thanks to Mrs. Nguyen Quoc Khanh and Vu Quang Dang. The high-level expert workshop was held in Hanoi, October 2016. Its report might be made available at APEC Energy Working Group publications page.