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Economic growth in Vietnam will be put under pressure if the country continues to rely on its hydro-  and thermal power resources and fails to develop its renewable energy sector, according to experts.

Quoc Tru, director of the Viet Nam Energy Consultancy Centre, said that it had developed its hydropower resources extensively and that several of its rivers had been fully tapped. In addition, the energy requirements of its thermal plant would see the Asian country import coal on top of its projected production of 70Mta. Oil and gas-fired electricity generation is also limited in scope. Moreover, he noted that the first nuclear power project would only enter operating in 2020, if it was built on schedule.

However, Quoc Tru cited figures from a World Bank survey which estimated total national wind power potential at around 513.360MW, 10 times the total capacity of the country’s hydropower plans forecast for 2020. He stressed the need for the development of this potential if Vietnam is to ensure its continued growth.

To date, several off-grid wind power projects have been carried out. They are mostly <20kW small-scale ventures, according to Nguyen Hoang Dung of Power Engineering Consulting JSC 3. Central Ninh Thuan Province appears to be spearheading the wind power development with 13 projects, with four having been granted investment licences. Their total capacity is 277MW during the first phase. In central Binh Thuan Province 12 projects are on the drawing board, with a combined capacity of 1541MW and provinces in the south’s coastal areas are developing a different rates, with a total registered capacity of 3837MW.