Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) propose suitable management solutions for solar power projects to ensure national security.
The Government Office released the directive to the MPI, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant agencies after local media reported that a Thai investor acquired solar power projects in southeastern Binh Phuoc province.
Binh Phuoc borders Cambodia’s Tbong Khmum, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
The reports said Thailand’s Super Energy Corp Pcl (Super Energy) had announced that it had acquired the Loc Ninh 1, 2, 3, 4 solar power projects in Binh Phuoc after purchasing shares from intermediary companies for a cumulative $456.7 million.
Of the amount, $99.7 million was invested in the Loc Ninh 1 solar power project, $140 million in the Loc Ninh 2, $105 million in the Loc Ninh 3 and $112 million in the Loc Ninh 4.
Before investing in the four solar power projects, Super Energy owned six other solar power projects in Vietnam. As of March, the six projects alone had a total capacity of up to 286.72MW, half the total capacity of Super Energy’s 100 solar power projects in Thailand.
Super Energy’s power projects in Vietnam have had a return on investment (EIRR) of 12-13 per cent while the Loc Ninh 1,2,3,4 solar power projects have much higher EIRR between from 16.59 per cent to 17.4 per cent.
The Thai investor has also purchased shares in a series of other solar projects in other provinces, including Ninh Thuan and An Giang and shares in four wind power projects in Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Phu Yen and Gia Lai provinces.
An Giang borders Cambodia’s Takeo and Kandal provinces, while Gia Lai borders the Kingdom’s Ratanakkiri province.
These projects are expected to be in full or partial operation from the fourth quarter of next year.
Through joint ventures and share transfers with Vietnamese enterprises, many foreign energy and investment groups have owned dozens of solar and wind power projects enjoying preferential rates of 9.35 US cents per kWh for 20 years in Vietnam, reported the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
Of which, Thanh Thanh Cong Group and Thailand’s Gulf Energy Group have set up a joint venture from mid-2019 to put investment to two solar power plants in Tay Ninh province, TTC 1 and TTC 2 – just a few kilometres east from Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town in Cambodia.
Gulf Energy has increased its holding to 90 per cent of shares at the two plants from 49 per cent last year. It also holds 95 per cent of shares at wind power projects in Ben Tre province.
Besides Thailand, many investors from Singapore, China and Philippines have owned many solar and wind power projects in Vietnam.
At present, more than 30 provinces and cities nationwide have solar power projects, raising concerns about broken electric planning and environmental problems.
Experts say Vietnam has had a strong development of solar projects after the state announced the attractive power purchase price at 9.35 US cents per kWh for solar power projects starting operation before June 31, 2019. This price would be for those projects within 20 years.
As a result, more than 300 solar power projects have been registered after this decision, breaking the Electricity Development Plan VII.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) noted the hot development of solar power projects has created a lack of synchronisation with development of transmission infrastructure at present.
Vietnam is expected to have a total solar power output of at least 7GW this year, according to the studies conducted by the GIZ German development cooperation agency’s Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Project and the MoIT’s Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy.
Of this, Binh Thuan has nearly 100 solar power projects with a capacity of 4,000MW, exceeding the planning at the Electricity Development Plan VII. The number of solar power projects is 10 times higher than wind power projects. This has led to a mismatch in deployment, which in turn has led to a serious overload for the electricity network system of the region.
Ninh Thuan, an attractive investment destination for power companies, has 30 solar power projects with a total capacity of up to 1,817MW and a total investment capital of 50 trillion dong ($2.15 billion) approved by the prime minister and the MoIT.
The province estimates to have 26 more solar power projects with a total capacity of 3,600MW.
With massive solar power projects landing to many localities such as Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Tay Ninh, Gia Lai, Hau Giang and Quang Ngai, the MoIT reported, by the end of last year, a total capacity of about 15,000MW from solar power projects have been approved by the prime minister and the MoIT to put into the Electricity Development Plan VII.
That has created difficulties in developing the electrical grid in the regions nationwide and building electric transmission infrastructure for solar power projects connecting the national electrical grid, said the MoIT.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK