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Vietnam’s electricity consumption set to hit record high during dry season
Ngoc Mai 12:27, 2024/04/09
Maintaining electricity supply during the peak dry season this year is expected to be challenging due to high demand and lower-than-average water flows.

Peak electricity consumption during the dry season (from May to July) is forecast to increase by 13%, much higher than the previously set electricity supply plan.

 EVN workers check operation of a electricity station. Photo: Hoai Anh/The Hanoi Times

Nguyen Quoc Trung, vice director of the National Load Dispatch Center (A0) shared the figures during a conference held on April 8.

He explained that the electricity demand across the country and the northern region in the early months of the year increased by 10-11%. However, from May to July, which is usually the most intense period of the year for the entire power supply system, the growth rate could reach up to 13%.

This figure is higher than the previous forecast of about 9.6%, according to the 2024 National Electricity System Operation Plan by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, he noted.

The National Meteorological and Hydrological Forecasting Center recently predicted that hot weather would arrive early in 2024. This could affect electricity supply to the system, especially in the northern region, where demand is expected to be higher than forecasted.

The A0 representative calculated that the demand for electricity in the northern region is about 25,000 MW, with an annual growth rate of 10%, or about 2,500 MW. "Every year, we need to add another hydropower plant like Sơn La to meet this growing demand," Trung said, noting that this poses a major challenge for the electricity sector.

A recent report by A0 forecast that during the peak dry season (from April to July), the maximum capacity growth rate (Pmax) in the Northern region is expected to reach 27,481 MW, a 17% increase compared to the operational record in 2023. Meanwhile, the northern power system's e total electricity production and import during this period were about 52.3 billion kWh, a 10% increase compared to last year.

According to Nguyen The Huu, Deputy Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (Ministry of Industry and Trade), maintaining electricity supply during the peak dry season this year is expected to be a challenge due to high demand and lower-than-average water flow.

In a meeting on April 3, Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien instructed units to ensure electricity supply and provide coal and gas for power generation in the coming time. "Under no circumstances should there be electricity shortages," he said. This message has been reiterated by the Government and the Prime Minister on several occasions when assigning tasks to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the electricity sector.

To ensure electricity supply, Trung from A0 stated that the agency has a strategy of accumulating water in hydroelectric reservoirs for use when needed, and currently stores 11 billion cubic meters of water, 2.7 times more than the same period last year. Some major reservoirs such as Lai Chau have water levels above 20 meters, Sơn La over 10 meters, and Hoa Binh over 4 meters.

Additionally, EVN has prepared scenarios for the most expensive power sources, such as oil-fired (FO, DO) power plants, and has been operating new energy sources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG)  since April 15. Coal-fired power sources, accounting for up to 50%, are closely monitored by this unit to be prepared for operation at higher capacity, if necessary.

A0 also coordinates with the Northern Power Corporation (EVNNPC) to review small hydropower plants, with a total capacity of 5,000 MW across nearly 300 plants, to align peak hour operations with the highest demand hours.

"For example, from 9 to 11 pm during the hot season when demand spikes, A0 will adjust the operation of small hydropower plants to generate electricity during those hours," Trung said.

In addition to mobilizing power sources, experts believe that energy conservation will ease the strain on electricity supply during the peak hot season in the North.

"Without the cooperation of customers, businesses, and authorities, we will have a hard time coping with this year's hot weather," Tran Minh Dung, Deputy General Director of EVNNPC, said.

According to Vo Quang Lam, Deputy General Director of EVN, Vietnam still has a lot of room for energy and electricity savings.

He cited data showing that to generate $1,000 of GDP, the economy currently requires twice the amount of primary energy and even three times the amount compared to the world and developed countries. Similarly, the elasticity coefficient (the ratio between electricity growth and GDP growth in Vietnam) in the period from 2017 to 2021 is consistently higher than 1.2 times, while in developed countries, this ratio is below 1.

"The demand for energy and electricity is growing rapidly, but the value of the  GDP generated is still low," Lam said. He expressed the company's hope that government agencies, authorities, and customers will save electricity to share the burden with the electricity sector.

Echoing this sentiment, energy expert Nguyen Tien Thoa said that demand for electricity consumption has a great impact on supply, even determining it. "If we can control the consumption demand of each region and sector, the total supply will be determined, thus,  proactively ensuring a balance between supply and demand in all situations," he said.

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