Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann SOLAR ROOFTOP PROJECT KEY DRIVERS

1. What are the key factors that are driving and restraining the ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER projects market in Vietnam?
In our view, following factors influence investors’ decision in investing in Rooftop Solar Power (RSP) projects in Vietnam:
• Low FIT: the proposed draft law suggests that ‘when electricity generated is higher than electricity consumed, the difference shall be purchased by the purchaser at the connection point, with the electricity tariff is 3150 VND/kWh (excluding value added tax, equivalent of 15 USDcents/kWh). Electricity tariff shall be adjusted according to the fluctuations of the exchange rate between VND/USD’.
• Lack of information on solar power: As a RSP project investment costs are relatively high, investors seek necessary information to support their investment decision. Nevertheless, there is no complete survey or complete source of information on solar energy that investors may access.
• Legal framework: The legal framework for solar power plants are under development. The MOIT is now working on a new draft decree to deal with difficulties that investors may face including application for tax incentives, import of equipment, convenient funding plans, etc.
• Other considerations such as investment costs, technology, etc.

2. Questions regarding cumulative installed capacity:
i. As of December 2013, the cumulative installed capacity for solar PV was 4 MW. What is your estimate of cumulative installed capacity till end of 2015?
The Vietnamese solar PV market is still very small with only around 4.5 MWp installed capacity at the end of 2014. Vietnam is expected to increase to around 7 MWp until 2020 and 1,500 MWp until 2030 with a respective share in renewable power generation capacity of 1.2% (by 2020) and 12.8% (by 2030). I do not have the exact number of cumulative installed capacity in 2015 but I estimate that it should have reached 5MWp.
ii. In your opinion, rooftop solar power installation accounted for how many percent of total solar PV installations? ( 2%?, 5%?)
We do not have access to any official source of latest information on specific numbers of RSP installations and total solar PV installations. Nevertheless, as noted in our answer to your Question 3 above, Vietnam has roughly 15,000 small scale PV off-grid applications, by the end of 2014. Based on such records, the rough percentage of installations of rooftop solar power installations would be 40% of the total solar PV installations (i.e. 6,000 RSP installations for solar home systems and small size PV systems for public use vs. 9,000 ground mounted PV installations for BTS, telecommunication use, public lightening systems and solar signal lights).
iii. What is the expected growth rate from 2016-2020? Is the growth rate of the industry moving in the right direction to achieve the proposed target? (if any?)
It is expected to achieve around 7 MWp until 2020 (growth rate 40% compared to 2016). Yes, the growth rate is moving in the right direction.

3. We are trying to identify the key end-users for ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER systems. What is the percentage (approx.) installed capacity among each of them: Residential, Commercial (Buildings) and Others (Car parking facilities, etc.
We do not have specific figures of RSP system’s installed capacity but according to a recent report of solar power in general, by the end of 2014, roughly 15,000 small scale PV off-grid applications with a total capacity of 3,600 kWp, the vast majority being <200 Wp of size only a few with more than 1kWp, were installed in Viet Nam. Of those, around 5,000 are solar home systems (SHS) with a size of 20-200Wp, 2,100 are telecommunication and BTS systems (300-4,000 Wp) and more than 1,000 are small size PV systems for public use such as in community centers, schools or medical centers (up to 3,000 Wp), which are deployed in rural and mountainous areas or on islands. Furthermore, around 5,000 solar signal lights (20-100 Wp) and 2,000 public lighting systems (50-250 Wp) were installed alongside streets and highways throughout the country.

4. Questions regarding cost:
i. What is the installation cost involved per kWp among different end-user segments in your country? (Residential, Commercial, Community) How is it likely to change in the future?
Residential/Community: $2,500 to 3,000 per kWp
Commercial: $4,500 per kWp
The installation costs can be reduced in future thank to increasing use of locally made products in solar power system and commitments to support including investment costs of the Government of Vietnam.
ii. What is the percentage break-up of installation costs among the various components in a ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER system? (Module, Charge controller, battery, inverter etc.)
Let take an example of a PV at the capacity of 1KWp/2KVA, the percentage of components costs exclusive of costs paid to installation of works by workers will be as follows:
Components Unit Price (USD)
Solar Panel 12 1,636
Battery 6 819
Inverter 1 410
Controller 2 367

5. What kind of solar panels are largely in demand for ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER systems (Monocrystalline/polycrystalline panels, thin film technologies)? Why? What is the average price range ($/Watt p) for these solar panels in Vietnam?
Monocrystalline/polycrystalline panels are popular in Vietnam as off-grid installed capacity in Viet Nam is dominated by smaller applications such as Solar Home Systems (SHS). Depending the quality and the brand name, the price is different. The average price is 3-5USD/Watt p.

6. How do you hear about new projects and could you please provide me with more examples of key recent projects? How these projects are funded? (banks, financial institutions, government, self-funded)
Basic information of big projects is usually published on the internet. Recently, Vietnam is going to build the first solar power project in Quang Nam with the installed capacity of 120 MW per year, invested by a domestic company Indochina Energy Industry Company Limited.

7. How many system integrators or installers are involved in installing ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER systems? Are there more local players or MNCs? What is the role of system integrator in such contracts? Who are the top 5 system integrators in Vietnam?
We assume that not more than 20 companies, most of them are local and produces components in solar cells/panels and related electronic devices (e.g. – controllers), act as integrators and/or installers. Major players including Hung Gia (Installation), Vtechco (Installation), Vu Phong (Installation), Nam Thai Ha JSC (Solar Materials Incorporated), Red Sun Solar (Solar Cells), Viet Linh AST (solar system), NICS Integration System (Installation).
We do not have specific market shares figures of biggest players in the market but are able to involve a professional market research company to do this job on your behalf.

8. Who are the top 5 competitors/ which brands of solar modules are highly popular in the ROOFTOP SOLAR POWER market?
The rooftop solar power market in Vietnam is still developing and there are not so many competitors yet. The popular names of Rooftop Solar Power Market are Red sun solar, Viet Vmicro JS, Panasonic, Megasun, IREX.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.


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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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