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Summer 2023: Shortage of electricity in Vietnam

According to the report of EVN, Vietnam is facing the possibility of a shortage of 4,900 MW of electricity in the North in the context of hot weather with little rain, low water level in hydroelectric reservoirs and a significant increase in demand.

Multiple challenges for the electricity provider in Vietnam

According to the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting, in the summer of 2023, in the North, it is predicted that the heat will occur more and more intense than in 2022, hence increasing the risk of a failure causing widespread power outages. Due to the very hot weather on May and June 2023, the temperature in some northern provinces from Thanh Hoa onwards sometimes reached 40 degrees Celsius, the demand for electricity has also suddenly increased. In the North, electricity demand accounts for nearly 50% of the whole country and the growth rate is also higher than the national average. EVN's data shows that, from April, the electricity consumption in the North and Central regions has increased significantly. From April 1 to 15, the average output reached 792 million kWh/day (equivalent to 100.52% of the plan). From April 16 to 21, the average output reached 823 million kWh/day (equivalent to 104.49% of the plan). On May 6, according to data from the National Load Dispatch Center (A0), the load level in the North was 20,051 MW, 1,720 MW higher than the South and 5 times higher than the Southern region. Central (3,871 MW).

The data of hydropower companies show that, due to the impact of El Nino, the amount of water in the hydropower reservoirs in the North continues to be poor, the water flow is only about 70-90% compared to the average of the years. As of April 24, many hydroelectric reservoirs on the system have returned to low water levels, potentially affecting the security of electricity supply and serving people's needs for the remainder of the 2023 dry season, and there are 9 lakes that are close to or below dead water level with a total capacity of about 3,000 MW. In addition, there have been 18 large hydroelectric reservoirs with the remaining capacity of less than 20%,18 reservoirs according to the inter-reservoir operating procedure have lower water levels than regulated, 22/31 reservoirs violated the water level limit for 2 consecutive weeks. The remaining output in the lake of the whole system is 4.5 billion kWh, 1.6 billion kWh lower than the plan, 4.1 billion kWh lower than the same period in 2022.

For example, Tri An Hydroelectricity Lake is near dead water level. Due to the influence of El Nino and the dry season lasted long, the amount of water in the lake decreased deeply, as on May 7, the water level according to the elevation of the Tri An Hydropower reservoir was only 50.5 m (the normal water level rise of Tri An lake is 62m), only 0.5 m higher than dead water level. According to the leader of Tri An Hydropower Company, this is the lowest water level in Tri An Hydropower Lake in the past decades. While there is little water in the lake, the company still operates 4 units thanks to the inter-reservoir operation mechanism to maintain the water source downstream.

EVN also said that the risk of power shortage also comes from the high price of imported coal and domestic coal, causing power plants to generate more and more losses. The increase in electricity consumption, especially in big cities, makes it difficult to supplement the shortage of coal and there has been a shortage of coal at the plants for some time. Currently, the supply capacity of Vietnam Coal-Mineral Industry Group (TKV) and Northeast Corporation is 46 million tons, more than 6 million tons lower than the coal supply chart for electricity production in 2023 approved in Decision No. 163/QD-BCT dated 06/02/2023.

Regarding gas fuels, according to the announcement of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group/Vietnam Gas Corporation, the ability to supply gas in 2023 continues the downward trend compared to previous years because a number of key fields entered a period of decline, as the expected output in 2023 is 5.6 billion m3, 1.31 billion m3 lower than 2022.

The solutions

Currently, EVN is negotiating with transitional renewable energy plants and has received 27 dossiers of electricity price negotiation. In addition, with electricity import, EVN faced difficulties related to the prolonged breakdown of some units such as Pha Lai thermal power plant, Vung Ang thermal power plant and Cam Pha thermal power plant. Additionally, the import of electricity from China is facing some difficult procedures, and buying electricity from Laos has not yet been approved. On that basis, EVN assessed that the structure of source mobilisation has changed significantly, so it must mobilise more oil thermal power sources in the future peak months of the dry season.

EVN had to mobilise diesel units from April 17, in which, the largest day was mobilised 2,498MW to run oil on April 21. Notably, in May, June, and July onwards, the North enters the peak of heat, the national power system's load may increase higher than planned. In the extreme situation in the North, the power system will be unable to meet the increased electricity output, generating capacity may be short with an estimated number of 1,600 - 4,900MW.

Regarding the solution to reduce the load in extreme situations, EVN will issue a list to stop reducing the emergency power supply level upstream of 110kV and medium voltage, and complete circuit for shedding emergency loads from all levels. According to an electricity expert, the cessation and reduction of the load is understood as in the case of large and extreme loads, EVN will transfer electricity from peak to peak hours of customers who use a lot of electricity (cement, iron and steel...). This load transfer has been negotiated by EVN with customers before and notified 24 hours in advance.

Measures for efficient use of electricity need to be implemented in the whole population, including reasonable use of air-conditioners, not using many electrical appliances with large capacity at the same time. People and businesses should limit the use of large-capacity equipment during peak hours (noon from 12h00 to 15h00, evening from 21h00 to 24h00). Industrial customers need to arrange a suitable production schedule, avoiding extreme hot days as recommended by the Provincial Power Company.

The risk of power shortage in the near future is entirely possible when the adjustment and modification policies related to the development of the electricity industry are being issued slowly. The fact that Power Plan VIII has not been approved so far will lead to difficulties in mobilising resources of domestic and foreign investors into renewable energy projects in the future. When the Power Plan VIII is approved, clearer mechanisms and newly mobilised power sources will help to reduce the load of power shortage.

source: The Internet

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