Vietnam going solar after nuclear power plants shelved

The Vietnam government decided to embark on a number of projects to build large solar power facilities in the country and encouraged large companies to invest in the sector in order to prevent anticipated power shortages due to the recent cancellation of nuclear power plant construction projects.

Originally, it was planned to build two nuclear power plants with Russia and Japan in the southern province of Ninh Thuan, but the plan was cancelled in November 2016 due to hefty up-front costs of several billion dollars per reactor and because of security fears.

Thien Tan Group, a large construction and energy conglomerate and one of Vietnam’s largest solar power company, now said it will spend $2 billion to build five large solar power plants by 2020 in Ninh Thuan. A 50 megawatts solar plant will start operating this year, followed by four plants generating 200-300 megawatt each. The five solar plants will generate an estimated one gigawatts, equivalent to the total power output of a nuclear reactor.

Ninh Thuan Province – which is blessed with ample sunshine and abundant idle land – is highly suitable for solar power generation. The province is trying to attract solar power plants as an alternative to nuclear. The province plans to attract 4.85 gigawatt  worth of large solar power plants by 2030.

TTC Group is another large enterprise that decided to tap into the solar power generation business. By 2020, the sugar, energy, real estate and tourism conglomerate said it will build 20 large solar power plants in southern provinces with ample sunshine, including a 320 megawatt plant in Tay Ninh province and a 300 megawatt facility in Binh Thuan Province.

The government in Hanoi is trying to nurture solar power generation as one of the country’s main sources of electrical power. Currently solar power only accounts for 0.01 per cent of total power generation capacity in Vietnam, but the government plans to increase the ratio to 3.3 per cent by 2030 and 20 per cent by 2050.