Central Highland provinces enhance development of renewable energy

Thursday, 2019-07-25 12:19:12
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The cluster of Serepok 1 and Quang Minh solar power plants in Ea Wer commune, Buon Don district, Dak Lak province (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – In recent years, Central Highland provinces, mainly Dak Lak and Gia Lai, have attracted a number of domestic and foreign investors to survey and invest in solar and wind power.

So far, many projects have been implemented and put into operation, significantly contributing to ensuring national energy security and promoting socio-economic development in the localities.

More resources for socio-economic development

The cluster of Serepok 1 and Quang Minh solar power plants in Ea Wer commune, Buon Don district, Dak Lak province, is one of the first projects of its kind, generating electricity for the national grid in the locality. Nguyen Van Tuan, Deputy General Director of Dai Hai Power Investment and Development Joint Stock Company, the project’s investor, said that the plants were constructed on an area of 120 hectares with a total investment of VND2.3 trillion (nearly US$99 million) and have a combined capacity of 100 MWp. After four years of construction, the project was put into full operation in early March 2019. As calculated by the company, the cluster will supply the national grid with around 150 million kWh of electricity each year, earning about VND300 billion (nearly US$1.3 million) in revenue and contributing VND30 billion (US$129,018) to the local budget. The construction of solar power plants in an arid and sunny land not only exploits the endless potential of clean energy sources but also contributes to solving economic problems for the region which has not found appropriate direction.

Tay Nguyen (Central Highland) wind farm, the first of its kind in the region, is being constructed in the remote Dlie Yang commune, Ea H’leo district, Dak Lak province. The project, funded by the HBRE Wind Power Solution Company (HBRE), has been implemented in three phases from 2017 to 2022 with a total investment of nearly VND13 trillion (US$560 million). Its total capital will be 436MW. Up to now, all 12 turbines of the first phase are being rushed to completion and are expected to be put into operation in September with a capacity of 28.8MW, producing 108 million kWh per year. According to the HBRE’s Deputy Director Nguyen Hoang Hiep, the company is a pioneer in receiving advanced technologies and techniques and using the wind measurement Lida, and has bought wind data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for 14 years.

The staff and engineers serving the project are Vietnamese people who are always willing to master the technology and are committed to ensuring labour safety and completing the project on schedule. With the current stable wind speeds of 7-7.5m per second, its turbines can operate at 100% of capacity, contributing to promoting the socio-economic development in this remote area and creating more jobs for local people. Furthermore, during the process of construction, the company has repaired, upgraded, expanded and renewed many inter-commune roads, contributing to improving the appearance of the new rural commune of Dlie Yang.

In addition to Dak Lak, Gia Lai province has also shown great potential for the development of solar power. According to the experts, Krong Pa district has highest hours of sunshine in Gia Lai, with around 1,7000 hours per year; therefore, the construction of a solar power plant in the locality will be very effective. At the end of 2018, the 49MWp Krong Pa solar power plant was inaugurated. Meanwhile, Chu Ngoc LICOGI 16 (first phase) was put into operation in May 2019 with a total capacity of 15MWp. The two projects, funded by the Gia Lai Electricity Joint Stock Company with total investment of nearly VND2.7 trillion (over US$116 million), are located in Chu Gu and Chu Ngoc communes, Krong Pa district. From a hot and exhausted area, Gia Lai province, and particularly Krong Pa district, has become a ‘promising land’ for many investors in the field of solar energy. The Standing Vice Chairman of the management board of Krong Pa Solar Power Plant, Tran Danh Bao, noted that the project was constructed on a non-cultivated hilly area of 76 hectares with total cost of VND1.428 trillion (US$61.4 million). Its total optimal installed capacity reached 69 MWp. Once fully completed, the plant will produce about 103 million kWh per year.

The Chairman of Krong Pa district People’s Committee, To Van Chanh, also said that there are many exhausted fields, so it is convenient to build solar power projects in the locality. Over recent times, 17 investors have surveyed the districts for 19 projects with total capacity of over 1,000 MWp. With the specific conditions of the locality, the development of solar power is a move in the right direction, bringing about high economic efficiency.

Improving people’s lives

The Vice Chairman of Buon Don district People’s Committee, Duong Van Xanh, said the border district has a large number of ethnic minority people. The locals have had to live in difficult circumstances due to the arid soils and harsh climate. Therefore, the enterprises’ investments in solar power plants have not only increased the value of lands but also created jobs and eradicated hunger for the locals.

As the projects were put into operation, many local people have become workers on the giant solar power projects. Ksor Gioi, a Gia Rai worker in Chu Gu commune, Krong Pa district, said: “I have collected over VND6 million (US$258) per month. The lives of many others are less difficult thanks to this project”. Worker Ksor Doi in Mlah village, Phu Can commune, Krong Pa district, also shared: “We were instructed on how to arrange and install solar panels in line with standards. Working for this project, I hope to develop strong skills so that I will have more jobs when other solar power projects are constructed, contributing to developing my family’s economy”.

The Director of Gia Lai provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Ho Phuoc Thanh, said that in terms of renewable energy, many investors are studying, surveying and setting up investment projects in solar and wind power with a total scale of around 3,000MWp. If they are implemented, Gia Lai will become a centre for renewable energy. The province also wants to develop this field in the coming time, creating a breakthrough for the local economy. So far, the province has allowed 23 investors to survey and invest in 33 solar power projects with a total capacity of nearly 4,000 MWp. Accordingly, two projects worth a total of VND2.672 trillion (nearly US$115 million) have put into operation with capacity of 98MWp, 11 others were considered and approved for additional planning, and 20 are in the process of surveying. In addition, 12 other investors are studying and choosing locations for further 17 projects.

According to Chairman of Dak Lak provincial People's Committee Pham Ngoc Nghi, the surveys made by relevant agencies and enterprises showed that the province has great potential for solar and wind power projects. The development of these renewable energy resources is also attracting many investors. Over recent years, Dak Lak province has created favourable conditions for investors to survey and accelerate procedures for the projects. Under a report from the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, five solar power projects have been approved for adding to the electricity development plans at all levels, with total capacity of 2,646 MWp and investment of VND63.205 trillion (US$2.7 billion). In addition, 19 other projects have been submitted to competent authorities for approval. In terms of wind power, besides the Central Highland wind farm in Ea H’leo district, the province has permitted investors to conduct surveys and wind measurements for the construction of eight wind power plants that are expected to cost VND48.446 trillion, with a total capacity of 1,384 MWp. Investors are also selecting wind power projects outside the planned area.

Solar and wind power are clean energy resources that have been encouraged in Vietnam in general and the Central Highland region in particular. Once completed, they will not only turn the barren, windy and sunny lands into electricity production areas but will also contribute to solving the problem of electricity shortages during the dry season. However, experts have recommended the control of the ‘hot’ development of the clean energy resources as the power transmission and connection system has not kept up, leading to overload of the power transmission system. In addition, the Central Highlands are also vulnerable to thunderstorms and whirlwinds, so the construction of renewable energy plants requires the participation of professional enterprises to ensure proper techniques and to reduce damages caused by natural disasters. Meanwhile, relevant agencies should pay attention to the treatment of expired solar panels to avoid environmental pollution because the Central Highlands contains the source of many large rivers and streams.