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Vietnam’s energy landscape
GE has had an active presence in Vietnam over the last couple decades, and having been involved in our work in the country more recently, I’m excited to see how quickly Vietnam is developing. Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia Pacific region, with a power generation capacity of about 54GW—and with projects being lined up as part of the next Power Development Plan (PDP 8) and a shift towards gas (local NG/imported LNG) and renewable power, that capacity is likely to rise to over 110 GW by 2030. In fact, Vietnam’s power generation mix already has about 23 GW combined- cycle power plants (CCPPs) approved in the country’s PDP and more than 30 GW in the queue for approval.
At the same time, the need for power is growing quickly in Vietnam. From 2016 to 2019, growth in demand was about 10% per year. So even with a cautiously optimistic view—and considering Vietnam’s GDP of 7%/year—electricity demand could grow by 8.6% in 2021 to 2025 and 7.4% from 2026 to 2030. It’s clear that a solution to meet Vietnam’s growing energy demand is needed.
The future is renewable…
Renewable energy is a desired solution to fill the demand gap in the coming years because it can support energy security, reduce emissions to help benefit the environment and deliver sustainable economic growth. In Vietnam, solar power has grown to about 5 GW and wind is adding about 1 GW to the grid. In the next couple years, it’s estimated that an additional 3-5 GW of wind power will be in commercial operation.
…but renewable energy alone can’t be the only solution …
Development of renewable energy, however, presents a number of challenges: To start with, there isn’t enough reserve power or energy storage to integrate renewable energy into the grid on a large scale, and the development of power transmission capacity has yet to catch up with renewable power sources. In addition, short-term energy policies don’t allow for full support of renewable penetration and a lack of regulation calling for investment/development of renewable projects through competitive bidding—including offshore wind power—are presenting some additional challenges.
While renewable energy sources will continue to grow globally, the challenge for a highly renewable-penetrated grid remains to provide safe, reliable and flexible power. This challenge applies to the Vietnamese grid as well.
…and gas can help make it possible
Considering the energy demand, energy storage and economic issues presented when shifting from traditional base-loaded power sources like coal and nuclear to renewable sources, the latest gas-powered combined-cycle plants are a viable solution to provide highly reliable and available power with improved operating flexibility, faster start times, increased ramp rates and broad fuel flexibility.
Under PDP 8, with the continued rise of wind and solar power, the need for flexible power sources is a continued focus area for the government. There is an opportunity for capacity firming solutions that can ensure reliability and security of supply to the grid.
Grid firming—or grid balancing—is the addition of another energy resource to a renewable power plant to provide secure, stable power any time the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. Grid firming is vital for any power generation network, especially one like Vietnam’s, where there will be a growing percentage of renewable power sources in the years to come.
And with access to nearly 15 billion cubic meters of natural gas via LNG (liquified natural gas) off Vietnam’s long coastline and ongoing offshore explorations coupled with the plan to source an additional 13 MTPA of gas, gas-powered energy is certainly a viable option to meet the expected additional power requirement as outlined in PDP 8.
Gas power in Vietnam: A natural solution
GE is confident that natural gas is the right solution to support Vietnam’s growing power needs. In my next blog, I’ll talk about how our latest gas technologies can help provide the extra power needed and support the growth of renewable energy sources as well as provide grid firming capabilities to ensure secure and reliable power.
I’m looking forward to working with our customers and continuing to help support Vietnam’s growth!
Author: Krishnakumar PG
Title: Regional Application Engineering Manager
Krishnakumar (KK) leads the GE Gas Power Customer Application Engineering team for Asia Pacific. He has over 16 years of experience in the energy and power industry—mostly with GE in the areas of Reliability Engineering and Product Management—and has led customer applications teams across both services (aftermarket) and new units. In his current role, KK is actively connected with Powering Vietnam initiatives, engaging with regional customers and partners to position GE technologies that deliver value.