More power grids needed to unlock renewable energy capacity
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has proposed the prime minister allow for more power grid projects than earlier planned to handle the high capacity of wind and solar power projects in the south-central provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan.
Pham Van Hau, vice chairman of Ninh Thuan Province, told Thanh Nien newspaper that it is imperative to develop more power grid projects for the sake of power generation.
“We are aware that the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) are focusing on (the issue). If we do not hurry, more damage will be inflicted,” Hau stressed, adding that some 36 hectares of land in his province have been zoned for the projects.
He revealed that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has given the province the go-ahead to generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2020.
So far, Binh Thuan has become home to 15 operational solar power projects with total capacity amounting to 1,063 MW of electricity and three wind power projects with a combined 117 MW.
Data from Power Engineering Consulting JSC 4 (PECC4), based in Nha Trang City of Khanh Hoa Province, indicated that as of November this year, the provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan had a combined capacity of up to 2,100 MW of renewable energy.
The figure has already exceeded the total planned capacity of renewable energy projects across the country, which is fixed at a modest 2,060 MW by 2020.
Power overload leading to declines in wind and solar power generation by 30%-40% of their designed capacity is largely due to problems in 110-kilovolt (kV) power transmission lines, stated Le Cao Quyen, deputy general director of PECC4.
He added that 220kV and 500kV transmission grids have yet to be affected, so they still meet the needs of power transmission.
Dang Phan Truong, chairman of the National Power Transmission Corporation, who recently inspected many substations and transmission grids in the two provinces, told Thanh Nien newspaper that transmission grids are not causing reductions in the power generation capacity of renewable energy plants.
“We have even exceeded our targets in many transmission projects. Many of our transmission lines and substations are not yet operating at their full capacity,” Truong remarked.
He highlighted the Thap Cham transformer substation in Ninh Thuan Province, noting that the facility can handle more than 200 MW of electricity but is now receiving roughly 70 MW, or some 30% of its total capacity.
However, transmission units should take a proactive approach in unlocking the capacity of renewable energy plants, including those becoming operational in the foreseeable future, according to the official.
“It is true that the overload now lies with 110kV lines instead of the 220kV and 500kV transmission lines. But if the overload on 110kV lines is resolved, there is a risk of overload to the other transmission lines,” he said.
Therefore, EVN has asked its local units to upgrade the 110kV line system in the provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan and to speed up investments in power grid projects until 2025, in line with the adjusted National Power Development Plan VII, he added.