“Several investors are ready to invest in solar electricity projects in Vietnam,” Thong said.
He told a conference on developing solar electricity in Vietnam held in Hanoi on September 21 that investors have looked to central Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces, which have a number of solar and wind power projects and also wish to expand to Quang Ngai, Thua Thien Hue, Ha Tinh, Hau Giang and Bac Lieu.
“The biggest challenge for the sector’s development is price mechanism. The solar electricity price should be calculated to ensure suitable profits for investors,” he said.
VCEA statistics showed that the country has about 30 local and foreign investors with solar projects of 20MW to over 300MW. Several investors from the Republic of Korea, France and India registered to invest in some central provinces.
He said that the number of local investors studying investing in clean energies has risen. For example, the Central Power Corporation has a solar electricity plant with capacity of 150MW in the central Khanh Hoa and the Electricity of Vietnam planned to invest in plants in Dong Nai and Binh Thuan.
Vietnam has potential for solar energy as it has solar irradiance of 4.3 kWh/m2 and averages 2,000 hours of sunlight each year.
However, investors have faced challenges when investing in the sector.
Le Vinh Son, chairman of the clean energies and energy saving group under the Vietnam Private Sector Forum and chairman of Son Ha Group said companies have been ready to invest in the sector.
“Policies on clean energies, especially solar energy have not been synchronous. Resources for clean energies have been limited and State management on the sector has been poor,” Son said.
Diep Bao Canh, chairman and general director of Red Sun Solar Energy Company said officers in management agencies lack knowledge on solar energy, making them unqualified to assess projects.
Financial institutions and banks also struggled to make credit assessments for solar power projects, Canh added.
He suggested the Government create a technical criteria relating to solar energy to serve as a foundation for project assessment.
Ninh Thuan Province should strive to become the country’s centre for wind and solar power projects, Nguyen Van Binh, the chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Economic Affairs, said.
Speaking at a meeting with provincial officials about the 12th National Party Congress resolution, Binh said that stable growth and environmental protection were needed for the country’s economic development.
Renewable energy is the path toward a “green economy”, he said.
Fourteen regions covering 8,000 hectares in the south-central coastal province, mostly in the districts of Ninh Phuoc, Thuan Nam and Thuan Bac, could easily accommodate wind power turbines because of strong winds in the area.
Wind speed in the province averages 7.1 metres per second, the highest in the country.
The province also has the highest potential in the country for solar energy. It has 2,600 to 2,800 hours of sunlight each year.
Average solar radiation is more than 320kcal per sq.cm every year, according to the World Bank.
Binh asked the province’s authorities to work with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to determine initial prices for wind and solar energy, and submit the proposal to the Government.
Renewable energy projects are expected to help solve the country’s power shortage, he said.
Ninh Thuan Province, however, has attracted only three wind energy projects, largely because of the high initial investment required for such projects and the price for the energy produced, which is lower than what investors want.
They include the US$57 million Mui Dinh plant, invested in by Germany’s EAB Company, and a US$177.5 million plant, invested in by Trung Nam Wind Power Joint-Stock Company, a subsidiary of the Trung Nam Group.
Construction began recently on the two plants, which are expected to be put into operation next year.
The other project is the Cong Hai plant of the Saigon Industry Corporation, built in co-operation with Power Generation Corporation 2 and HCM City Electric Power Trading Investment Corporation. It is expected to begin operation next year.