Laos wind farms offer Vietnam 4,150 MW of electricity

Construction News Vietnam
An onshore wind energy project in Ninh Thuan Province put in operation before Nov. 1, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Laos wind farms offer Vietnam 4,150 MW of electricity

Seven Lao wind energy plants want to sell a total of 4,150 MW to Vietnam, according to national utility Vietnam Electricity.

It will be done in phases, with 682MW supplied before 2025 and the rest gradually after that.

Vietnam will be keen on accepting the offer.

If the National Energy Master Plan is carried out on schedule, the central and southern regions would have enough power until 2030, but the north is likely to face shortages from 2025, especially during the dry season from May to July, EVN said.

Importing energy from Laos would help alleviate the shortfall, it said.

Affordability is also a factor, with wind energy from Laos currently costing 6.95 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to Vietnam’s 8.5-9.8 cents, depending on whether the plant is on land or offshore.

Vietnam has been importing energy, mainly hydroelectricity, from Laos since 2016 through intergovernmental agreements.

Increasing electricity purchases from neighbors is in the trade ministry’s power plans for this year.

However, there are certain challenges.

Electricity from Laos is expected to pass through transmission lines in Quang Tri Province, meaning the quantity of purchase will largely depend on infrastructure in this area.

EVN’s calculations show that the proposed 4,149 MW exceeds the capacity of the local power grid.

Most of its 200 kV and 110 kV lines operate at 80-100% of capacity. The region can only manage a maximum of 300 MW of transmission during the dry season and even less at other times.

“Before the Lao Bao 500 kV substation is put into operation, this area [Quang Tri Province] can hardly take in more electricity from Laos because all the existing 220 kV lines are operating at high loads,” EVN said.

Once the grid infrastructure is improved, such as with the construction of the Huong Hoa 500 kV substation and connecting lines in late 2027, Vietnam can get 2,500 MW from Laos, which will still be 1,650 MW short of the quantity it is seeking to sell.

Furthermore, adding more renewable energy to the national grid will throw plans out if kilter. Domestic renewable energy accounted for 27% of grid capacity at the end of 2023 and is only expected to grow to 34% by 2030, according to the National Energy Master Plan.

So, to ensure grid stability, EVN said the trade ministry should only buy a maximum of 300 MW of wind power from Laos before 2025, and only during the peak demand season.

From 2026 to 2030 a maximum of 2,500 MW could be bought, it said.

It also urged the government to import more hydroelectricity to increase flexibility.

More grid infrastructure and transmission lines, including 220 kV and 500 kV dual-circuit lines from the border to the Lao Bao substation, should be added to the national master plan, it added.