Tag Archives: solar

Rechtsanwalt in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann – Solar Strom – Zahlungsmechanismen von Vietnam Electricity (früher Electricity of Vietnam, EVN) für den Solarstromproduzenten (Independent Power Producer, IPP) – Was Sie wissen müssen:

Rechtsanwalt in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann – Solar Strom – Zahlungsmechanismen von Vietnam Electricity (früher Electricity of Vietnam, EVN) für den Solarstromproduzenten (Independent Power Producer, IPP) – Was Sie wissen müssen:

  1. Die Periodizität der Zahlung von Energieverkauf vom Kunden (EVN) zum IPP

Der IPP und EVN werden gemeinsam das Messergebnis auf monatlicher Basis eines gemeinsam beschlossenen Datums ablesen. Der IPP wird das Ergebnis schriftlich aufnehmen und gemeinsam mit der Rechnung an EVN, innerhalb von 10 Tagen ab Ablesedatum, schicken. Die Zahlungsfrist fuer EVN sind 15 Werktage vom Erhalt Rechnung des IPP.

  1. Frequenz der Preisanpassungen, sodass Zahlungen in VND dem entsprechenden USD-Wert entsprechen

Es ist in Entscheidung 11 und Rundschreiben 16 nicht klar formuliert, aber wir verstehen es so, dass die Anpassungen zur Zeit der Zahlung, fuer ins Stromnetz integrierte Projekte durchgefuehrt werden. Fuer Stromnetzprojekte wird die Anpassung jaehrlich durchgefuehrt. Vorschriften wurden in vorherigen Stromprojektdokumenten eingefasst.

  1. Mechanismen fuer Preisanpassungen (sprich: anwendbare Preisanpassungen sind nach dem Durchschnitt der Anpassungsperiode gewichtet, sodass der Verkäufer den VND/USD Wechselkursraten nicht ausgesetzt ist

Für Stromnetzprojekte wird die Anpassung zum Zeitpunkt der Zahlung durchgeführt. Fuer Stromnetz Dachzellenprojekte wird die Anpassung jährlich durchgeführt. Das heisst, dass der FiT fuer Stromnetzprojekte im gesamten Jahr gleich bleibt. Der FiT fuer Stromnetzprojekte des nächsten Jahres wird basierend auf dem Wechselkurs VND/USD am letzten Arbeitstag des Vorjahres bestimmt.

***

Falls Sie irgendwelche Fragen haben bzw. Details erfahren wollen, zögern Sie bitte nicht Dr. Oliver Massmann unter omassmann@duanemorris.com zu kontaktieren. Dr. Oliver Massmann ist der General Direktor von Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

 

Vielen Dank!

 

 

 

 

Rechtsanwalt in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann Solar Energie Handlungsplan um Deals mit dem neuen Stromkaufvertrag abschliessen zu koennen

Interview mit Dr. Oliver Massmann

  1. Welche signifikanten Aenderungen bringt der neue PPA fuer den Solarenergie-Sektor?

Decision 11 fuehrt die Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) – Rate von 9,35 US Cents pro kWh ein. Die FiT Rate ist nur fuer Solarenergie-Projekte anzuwenden, welche ans Stromnetz angeschlossen werden sollen oder es bereits sind. Die Solarzellen muessen einen Wirkungsgrad, groesser als 15% besitzen. Die FiT Rate ist vom Wechselkurs zwischen dem VND und dem US-Dollar abhaengig. Die Rate bleibt waehrend des Jahres stabil. Jedoch wird sie von der vietnamesischen Staatsbank am letzten Arbeitstag des Jahres, fuer das folgende Jahr angepasst.

Mit dem Ergebnis, dass die finanzielle Planung einfacher wird und den Investoren gewisse Sicherheiten gewaehrt werden, wie zum Beispiel den Schutz vor Waehrungsfluktuation.

  1. Welche Aspekte des neuen PPA haben sich im Vergleich zum Entwurf vom April 2017 veraendert?

Verglichen mit dem Entwurfs-PPA ist die FiT Rate jetzt in der finalen Version des PPA ausgegeben. Jetzt gibt es Referenz zu den Anpassungen der FiT im Fall von USD/VND Wechselkursfluktuationen.

Das Ministerium fuer Planung und Investitionen machte keine weiteren grossen Veraenderungen hinsichtlich der Schwaechen des Entwurfs vom April 2017.

Der Investor hat immer noch das groesste Risiko selbst zu schultern.

  1. Ist der PPA bankfaehig?

Nein! Allgemein betrachtet ist der PPA in seiner finalen Version nicht bankfaehig.

  1. Gibt es einen Weg den PPA bankfaehig zu machen?

Ja! Man kann den Solarenergie-PPA bankfaehig machen. Wir haben 20 Jahre Erfahrung mit dem Ausgestalten der Bankfaehigkeit fuer PPAs im Bereich der durch Gas und Kohle betriebenen Kraftwerke und im Windenergiebereich in Vietnam. Der Investor sollte alle Geschaeftskanaele nutzen und erfahrene Verhandlungsexperten zur Unterstuetzung einbinden, um den PPA bankfaehig zu machen. Es ist eine Sache der Verhandlung und Erfahrung in diesem Bereich. Decision 11 sichert Investoren die Moeglichkeit zur Verhandlung mit EVN zu. Der Preis bleibt, er ist nicht verhandelbar.

Abkommen, wie das EU – Vietnam Freihandelsabkommen (,,EVFTA“) oder die Trans-Pazifische Partnerschaft (,,TPP“), welches jetzt das Umfassende und Fortlaufende Abkommen der Trans-Pazifischen Partnerschaft genannt wird (,,CPTPP“), setzten einen grossen Meilenstein fuer die Bankfaehigkeit des PPA.

Das EVFTA wurde 2015 unterzeichnet und soll erwartungsgemaess bis 2018 von allen Mitgliedsstaaten unterzeichnet werden. Dann soll es wahrscheinlich 2019 in Kraft treten. Es wird erwartet, dass das EVFTA das BIP Vietnams erhoehen wird und die Wirtschaft von Vietnam liberalisiert. Ein weiterer Aspekt ist die Eliminierung von fast allen Zoellen (ueber 99% aller Tariflinien). Als Ergebnis wird es riesige Auswirkungen auf die Handelsentwicklung und das Interesse von Investoren geben.

Ein weiteres wichtiges Abkommen ist die CPTPP. Am 4. Februar 2016 wurde die TPP von 12 Staaten unterzeichnet. Die unterzeichnenden Staaten machten gemeinsam 28% des globalen Handels und 40% des weltweiten BIP aus. Jedoch hat US Praesident Trump zu Beginn des Jahres 2017 beschlossen, dass sich die USA von der TPP zurueckziehen wird. Die verbliebenden 11 Mitgliedsstaaten haben die Zukunft der TPP bei der APEC in Da Nang, Vietnam diskutiert und sind sich einig geworden, die TPP unter dem neuen Namen der CPTPP in Kraft zu bringen. Weiterhin beschlossen die Staaten ein neues Rahmenabkommen auszuarbeiten, welches Aenderungen zur vorherigen TPP mit sich bringen soll. Die groessten Veraenderungen wurden im Bereich des geistigen Eigentums durchgefuehrt. Der Schutz von Urheberrechten und der spezielle Schutz von Biologika oder Pharmazeutika beispielsweise wurde reduziert.

Dennoch bleibt der Anspruch der Marktzugriffsmoeglichkeiten dem der ersten TPP entsprechend.  In bestimmten Mitgliedsstaaten muessen interne Verhandlungen stattfinden. Ferner brauchen die Staaten Zeit, um ihre Gesetze an die CPTPP-Regeln anzupassen. Die Verhandelnden haben sich das Unterzeichnen der ueberarbeitenden TPP fuer das erste Quartal in 2018 als Ziel gesetzt. Nach der Ratifizierung der CPTPP in mindestens 6 Laendern,  tritt dieses in Kraft.

Mit der CPTPP wird Zugriff auf mehr Marktsektoren gewaehrleistet, als es durch die WTO der Fall ist. Genannt werden koennen hier z.B: Telekommunikation, Vertrieb von Waren, Herstellung und Verarbeitung. Trotzdem werden gewisse Restriktionen im Strom –und Energiesektor verbleiben, die im Folgenden noch diskutiert werden.

Durch das EVFTA und die TPP wird Vietnam Zugriff auf weiteste Teile des internationalen Marktes erhalten. Damit bekommt Vietnam die Moeglichkeit seine Import –und Exportraten (ein Anstieg um bis zu 37% bis 2025 wird erwartet) und die auslaendischen Investitionen zu erhoehen.

Ein weiteres notwendiges Instrument ist das Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), welches unter dem EVFTA und der TPP Anwendung finden wird. Dadurch erhalten Investoren das Recht, bei investitionsbezogenen Streitfaellen, Ansprueche im Investitionsland, mithilfe internationaler Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit einzuklagen. Die Schiedsgerichtsprozesse sollen oeffentlich gemacht werden um Transparenz bei Streitfaellen gewaehrleisten zu koennen. Bezueglich der TPP wurde der Geltungsbereich des ISDS auf ,,investment agreements“ (Investitionsvertraege) und ,,investment authorization“ (Investitionsbewilligung), in der Diskussion bei der APEC-Veranstaltung am 10. und 11. November 2017, reduziert.

Als Schlussbemerkung: Die Bankfaehigkeit des PPA wird durch die Wirkung des EVFTA und der TPP in den naechsten Jahren verbessert, wenn der legislative Rahmen dafuer geschaffen wird. Die Wirtschaft wird durch den Zugriff auf weitere Teile des globalen Marktes und durch weitere auslaendische Investitionen dynamischer werden. Mit der Durchfuehrung des ISDS bei der TPP werden die Investoren mehr Sicherheit in Bezug auf Streitschlichtung und fuer den Schutz vor den Risiken des internationalen Handels besitzen. Mit dem Ergebnis, dass Banken eher gewillt sein werden PPAs zu finanzieren.

Unsere Empfehlungen: Bisher ist die Bankfaehigkeit nicht in dem Masse gegeben, wie sie erwartet wurde. Sie sollten jedoch vor den kommenden Abkommen gewarnt sein, die grosse Auswirkungen auf das Wirtschaftswachstum und die Wirtschaft selbst haben werden. Wenn sich alles weiterhin in die richtige Richtung entwickelt wie es bisher der Fall ist, wird der PPA in der Zukunft bankfaehiger werden und es werden sich bessere Investitionsmoeglichkeiten daraus ergeben.

  1. Wie wurde das Problem der Bankfaehigkeit in der Vergangenheit gehandhabt?

Die TPP und das EVFTA sind nicht die einzigen Abkommen, die die Bankfaehigkeit des PPA verbessern.

Vietnam und die USA unterzeichneten 1999 das Bilaterale Handelsabkommen (BTA), welches im Jahr 2001 in Kraft trat. Es war ein riesiger Erfolg und ein wichtiges Abkommen fuer die Wirtschaft von Vietnam. Es war die erste Oeffnung des vietnamesischen Marktes nach aussen und fuer die Schaffung neuer Geschaeftsmoeglichkeiten und fuer neue Standards von Finanzierungsprojekten wichtig.

Ein weiterer wichtiger Fakt ist der WTO-Beitritt Vietnams 2007. Dieser hat die Handelsbeziehungen zwischen Vietnam und anderen Nationen, durch das Entfernen von Handelsschranken und durch die Verpflichtung zur Nicht-Diskriminierung verbessert. Ferner war es ein politisches Zeichen, den Willen Vietnams fuer eine Integration in den internationalen Handel, durch das Aktzeptieren internationaler Handelsregeln, auszudruecken.

Fuer das Erfuellen der Verpflichtungen sind Anpassungen der Gesetze notwendig, um die Funktionsfaehigkeit und Effizienz der Projekte zu gewaehrleisten. In den letzten Jahren wurden viele wichtige Gesetze verabschiedet. Diese verhalfen zur Verbesserung der Bankfaehigkeit des PPA, z.B: das 2014 Investitionsgesetz, das 2014 Unternehmensgesetz, das 2012 Arbeitsgesetz, etc.

Zusaetzlich wurde 2011 das rechtliche Rahmenwerk fuer Windkraftprojekte eingefuehrt.

Unsere Empfehlungen: Sie sollten bestehende internationale Abkommen als Basis fuer Verhandlungen nutzen. Erinnern sie sich an vergangene erfolgreiche Faelle und  behalten Sie die Schwierigkeiten der Projektentwicklung im Auge. Mit einer gut strukturierten Projektentwicklung ist es moeglich den PPA bankfaehig zu machen.

  1. Was sind die Hauptprobleme des PPA fuer Investoren?

Mit den zahlreichen Solarprojekten, die nur auf wenige zentrale Standorte verteilt sind, sollte die Kapazitaet der vorhandenen Einrichtungen fuer die Stromaufnahme, Grund zur Sorge fuer den Transfer von Risiken zu den Stromerzeugern darstellen.

EVN besitzt eine Monopolstellung fuer den Vertrieb, Reparationen, Wartung, Inspektion und Durchfuehrung des Stromverteilungsnetzes.

Es besteht es grosses Risiko aufgrund des Mangels einer Garantie der Regierung ueber EVNs Zahlungsverpflichtung in Faellen, in denen die Energie produziert wird, aber EVN aufgrund technischer Schwierigkeiten den Strom nicht weiterleiten kann. Eine Loesung fuer die Ueberbrueckung dieser Garantieluecke kann die Nutzung des MIGA-Backup der Weltbank (Mulitlaterale Investitions Garantie Behoerde) oder die Unterstuetzung durch die Asean Entwicklungsbank darstellen.

Gruende fuer eine Stromverteilungstoerung kann z.B. sein: Faelle hoeherer Gewalt oder Vertragsbeendigungen. EVN kann die Einspeisung des Stromes in Faellen von Wartung oder Reparationen verweigern.

Circular 16 enthaelt keinerlei Garantien oder Kompensationen fuer die Investoren bei Eintritt der genannten Faelle.

Unsere Empfehlungen fuer die Vermeidung potenzieller Risiken:

Nehmen Sie sich vor dem Veto-Recht EVNs und den vietnamesischen Behoerden in Acht! Seien Sie geduldig. Entscheidungsprozesse in Vietnam gehen durch viele Stadien und brauchen ihre Zeit.

  1. Es werden Konflikte zwischen den Investoren und EVN entstehen, da die Risiken auf den Investor verschoben werden. Welche Konfliktbewaeltigungsmoeglichkeiten beinhaltet der

PPA fuer Investoren?

Grundsaetzlich wird der PPA durch das vietnamesische Gesetz bestimmt. Er beinhaltet keine Regelungen fuer eine internationale Streitbeilegung.

Konflikte koennen dem Ministerium fuer Elektrizitaet und Erneuerbare Energien mitgeteilt werden. Wenn diese Option fehlschlaegt, koennen Investoren bei der Electricity Regulatory of Vietnam (ERAV) Hilfe ersuchen, oder Antrag bei einem vietnamesischen Gericht stellen.

Der PPA erlaubt nationale und offshore Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit. Jedoch liegt es in EVNs Haenden, ob diese Moeglichkeit im Einzelfall bestehen wird.

Unsere Empfehlungen fuer erfolgreiche Verhandlungen mit EVN: Sie muessen verstehen, wie EVN arbeitet und was deren Ziele sind. Seien Sie sich EVNs Monopolstellung im Energiesektor in Vietnam bewusst. Versuchen Sie nicht ,,das Rad neu zu erfinden“.

Ueberfordern Sie EVN nicht mit zu ambitionierten Intentionen hinsichtlich des Enwicklungsantrages. Sie koennten von zu vielen neuen Dingen veraengstigt sein. Verlassen Sie sich auf funktionierende erfolgreiche Strategien der Vergangenheit und stellen Sie Referenz zu erfolgreichen Projekte her.

  1. Welche Sicht besitzt das MoIT hinsichtlich der Schwaechen des PPA?

Das MoIT ist sich der Schwaechen des PPA bewusst und weiss, dass der PPA Investoren nicht in der Art anziehen wird, wie es zur Energiebedarfsdeckung noetig waere und um Probleme hinsichtllich der Entwicklung erneuerbarer Energien bewaeltigen zu koennen.

Das MoIT weiss ferner, dass der Solarenergie-Sektor in Vietnam grosses Potenzial besitzt.

Letztendlich erwartet das MoIT das Anziehen kleiner Investitionsprojekte, bei denen die Bankfaehigkeit fuer Investoren nicht von all zu grosser Bedeutung ist.

  1. Ist die Sicht des MoIT realistisch?

Unserer Meinung nach, ist die Sicht des MoIT nicht realistisch. Diese koennte zu unschaffbaren Projekten fuehren, aufgrund der bestehenden Risiken der finalen Version des PPA und durch die nicht vorhandenen versichernden oder unterstuetzenden Leistungen von Banken. Darueberhinaus haengt der Erfolg von Projekten, von dem Ergebnis der Verhandlung mit EVN ab.

  1. Welche Ratschlaege koennen Sie zukuenftigen Investoren bezueglich der Projektentwicklung geben?

Nehmen Sie sich in Acht! Sie muessen das Projekt auf einer Schritt-fuer-Schritt Basis entwickeln und sich auf die Verhandlungen mit EVN vorbereiten, falls Sie sich entscheiden, in ein ans Stromnetz eingegliedertes Energieprojekt zu investieren.

Bitte werden Sie sich an den Autor Dr. Oliver Massmann unter omassmann@duanemorris.com wenn Sie Fragen haben. Dr. Oliver Massmann ist co-Generaldirektor von Duane Morris LLC.

Vielen Dank!

 

 

 

Lawyer in Vietnam Dr. Oliver Massmann – Solar Power – Payment mechanism from Vietnam Electricity (former Electricity of Vietnam, EVN) to Solar IPP – What you must know:

1. The periodicity of payment for energy sales by client (EVN) to IPP

The IPP and EVN will together read the metering result on a monthly basis on a mutually agreed date to determine the power delivered and received in a month. The IPP will record the result in writing and send it together with the invoice to EVN within 10 working days from the result reading date. The payment deadline for EVN is within 15 working days from the receipt of the IPP’s invoice.

2. Frequency of price adjustment such that payment in VND reflects equivalent USD value

It is not clear in both Decision 11 and Circular 16, but we understand that the adjustment will be made at the time of payment for grid connected projects. For on-grid rooftop projects, the adjustment is made annually. Provision have been included in previous power project documents.

3. Mechanism for price adjustment (e.g. is applicable price adjustment is weighted average of adjustment period such that seller is not exposed to changes to VND/USD exchange rate).

For on-grid projects, the adjustment is made at the time of payment. For on-grid rooftop projects, the adjustment is made annually. It means that the FiT for on-grid rooftop projects remains the same in a year. The FiT for on-grid rooftop projects for the next year will be adjusted based on the announced VND/USD exchange rate on the last working day of the preceding year.

Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above.

THANK YOU !

 

 

 

 

Vietnam plays a calculated game of risk with new solar PPA

Vietnam appears to be betting on gung ho enthusiasm to kick start solar power development rather than taking bold steps to deliver a stable backbone to the industry.  It’s a gamble that may pay off in the short term but might also saddle the country with poorly-conceived and under-performing projects in the long term.

 

To much fanfare, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) released Circular 16 in including final template power purchase agreements (PPA) for the solar energy sector. The circular and PPA templates follow a draft issued back in April this year, and are stated to be mandatory templates for utility-scale and rooftop solar projects.

 

The original draft PPA for utility scale grid projects was met with criticism, and declared non-bankable by most experts and commentators (despite hewing closely to the previously-issued standard PPA for wind projects). Unfortunately, little has changed with the final version of the PPA.  Would-be investors raised serious concerns over the amount and type of risk the PPA sought to shift to investors, and the message delivered was that unless the government was willing to address some of the most glaring problems, few reputable foreign solar players and, just as importantly, few reputable financiers would be likely to sign up.

 

Having largely ignored recommendations provided, the final text does little to inspire confidence. The final PPA does not improve upon the main critical issues highlighted in April.  Issues include a lack of measures to compensate producers for interruption in the ability to receive power, force majeure conditions, contract suspension, and settlement of disputes.

 

Tariff trouble

 

With the FiT rate of US$0.0935/kWh for grid-connected solar power projects confirmed, Circular 16 goes on to outline that the FiT is available for 20 years to projects, or parts of projects, that reach commercial operation before 30 June 2019.

 

As with the draft from April, the final PPA does not include any indexation of the FiT to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to address inflation risks. In response to concerns over fluctuating exchange rates, the circular does state that “the FiT for the following year shall be adjusted according to the central exchange rates of the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar announced by the State Bank of Vietnam on the last working day of the preceding year.”  Annual adjustment is better than none but it wouldn’t have been difficult to spread adjustments throughout the year.

 

As a way to offset the relatively low tariff, and inflation risks, investors may be able to benefit from tax exemptions on raw materials and supplies imported for their projects, corporate income tax relief, and an exemption from land rental fees within the first three years of commencing commercial operation.

 

A risk too far?

 

Under Decision 11 (which also set the FiT) and the final version of the PPA appended to Circular 16, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) is responsible for purchasing the entire power output from grid-connected projects at the stated FiT.

 

However, the PPA relieves EVN from payment obligations in cases where it is unable to take power due to a breakdown of the transmission or distribution grid. With many solar projects currently focused on few central locations, the capacity of existing facilities to absorb power must be a cause of some concern given the PPA’s transfer of such risk to power producers.

 

Worryingly, the PPA lacks any mechanism to compensate power producers should interruptions happen outside of their control. Not only does the PPA not provide for extension of time in case of force majeure, but if force majeure were to prevent a power producer from meeting its obligations for a year then EVN could unilaterally terminate the PPA with no compensation payable.  In such circumstances, the power producer is left alone in the dark.

 

Such arrangements might be acceptable to projects that manage to negotiate clear ‘take or pay’ terms and/or government guarantees, but it is highly questionable whether and to what extent either of these will be possible in the current climate.  As a direct consequence, it is equally questionable to what extent private finance will be prepared to bear the risk, a fact that will prompt capital to seek more favourable conditions in other markets.

 

Playing by house rules

 

If the above portends of problems in the relationship with EVN, investors may be further discouraged by the lack of specifics in terms of dispute resolution. The PPA is governed by Vietnamese law and does not itself expressly include the right to agree on international arbitration to resolve disputes, a condition that would typically be considered an important requirement.

 

As it stands, disputes can be submitted to the Electricity Renewable Energy Department (formerly the General Directorate of Energy) for mediation. If that doesn’t work, there is the option of escalating the issue to the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) or pursuing litigation in Vietnam’s courts.

 

The PPA does allow for “another dispute resolution body to be agreed by the parties”, which potentially opens the door for sellers to negotiate with EVN on dispute resolution, including offshore or even domestic arbitration.  But it is not clear if EVN will agree to directly amend PPAs to allow for express prior agreement on offshore arbitration or simply open the door for such a discussion at the time of a dispute.  Clearly in the latter case the deck is firmly stacked in EVN’s favour.

 

One step forward… wait and see

 

The MoIT is well aware of the deficiencies in the PPA and knows that, in its current form, it will not attract the kind of investment Vietnam needs if it is to meet both its energy demands and renewable targets. They know that investors were hoping for some of the shortfalls to have been addressed, and as such the agreement remains – for all intents and purposes – largely unbankable.

 

On the other hand however, the MoIT is also acutely aware of the significant interest in Vietnam’s solar sector. The vast potential of solar power is there for the taking, with abundant land available for the development of solar farms for first movers. With this in mind, the PPA can be considered an attempt to test the waters – asking how much risk investors are willing to bear in return for a piece of the action.

 

The MoIT is confident that smaller, nimble players will be attracted to Vietnam and make investments, regardless of the bankability of the PPA on paper. The question truly posed by Circular 16 is: exactly how much risk are investors willing to accept?  What better way to test it than in open market conditions?  If risk allocation adjustment need to be made in future, the Prime Minister, MoIT and EVN can make them relatively easily.

 

Ultimately, although the PPA is “final” on paper, the real trick is for investors to work hard and smart to agree adjustments on a project-to-project basis that re-align specific risks in acceptable ways.  Each project is a sum of many different elements and successful investors in the early days at least will be the ones that focus their energies on key issues for their projects where they can make meaningful progress.  Opportunity vs. risk: Vietnam is playing a calculated game at the dawn of the solar energy sector.  Where the chips fall remains to be seen.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s energy sector, please contact Giles at GTCooper@duanemorris.com or any of the lawyers in our office listing. Giles is co-General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC and branch director of Duane Morris’ HCMC office.

VIETNAM SOLAR POWER – THE FIRST OFFICIAL PPA – VIETNAM INVESTMENT REVIEW INTERVIEWING DR. OLIVER MASSMANN

1. Could you point out for me the good point of this solar PPA?

While the previous draft solar PPA does not require the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) conversion between USD and VND be according to the exchange rate at the time of payment, this newly issued solar PPA repeats the language in Decision No. 11/2017/QD-TTg (Decision 11) that the FiT will be adjusted according to the fluctuation in the VND/USD exchange rate. This is consistent with what is stipulated in Decision 11.
In addition, I note that while the FiT for power output from on-grid projects is adjusted according to the fluctuation in the VND/USD exchange rate, meaning at any time during the year, it is not the same for rooftop projects. Instead, the mentioned FiT for excessive power output generated from rooftop projects remains the same throughout the first year of operation, and the new FiT for the next year will be adjusted based on the announced VND/ USD exchange rate of the last working day of the previous year.

2. Are there any concerns of investors that the solar PPA has not solved?

The rights of the investors are not fully protected in the following cases:
– when EVN is in the process of installing equipment, or making repairs, replacement, inspection or examination of the grid connection of the seller’s power plant;
– when the transmission grid or the distribution grid connected to EVN’s grid has a problem or grid equipment directly connected to EVN’s transmission grid or the distribution grid has a problem; and
– when EVN’s grid needs support to recover after the incident in accordance with the provisions of operation of the national power system and the standards, technical regulations of the electric industry.
– allocation of feeding points into the grid
It is quite risky for the producer if the output is ready to be fed to the grid but the connection is not available to do so. Absent a clear indication of whether the Solar PPA is a ‘take or pay” agreement, investors will find it difficult to secure and ensure the profits and revenue of their projects.
• No international arbitration dispute resolution clause
• No Government guarantee to enhance the credit of EVN as the sole off-taker;
• No provision addressing the risks of changes in applicable laws; and
• The Solar PPA is required to follow a specific template, which is not bankable.

3. Is this PPA solar bankable or not?

This PPA is not bankable due to reasons specified in 2).

4. In your opinion, how Vietnam government should do in order to reach their target for solar power capacity in the coming to time?

There is an increasing interest of foreign investors in the sector, proven by the fact that there are many solar projects with total capacity of 10,000 MW registered with the MOIT. However, not many of them have submitted the pre-feasibility study to the MOIT for consideration. There are many reasons behind this, but the most important ones are the lack of Government guarantee of EVN’s payment obligation in the PPA and currency hedging. Thus, the Government should consider a mechanism where EVN has to fulfil its payment obligation and the investors are ensured that they will be able to remit their profits abroad in foreign currency.

***
Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
Thank you!

Renewable Energy Vietnam – Duane Morris – We get deals done:

  1. Describe the role of yourself/company/department within renewable energy in Vietnam. 

Duane Morris, as both advisor and advocate, guides clients through the complex legal, financial and political issues that pervade the energy industry. For both producers and policy-makers, as well as industry participants and consumers, Duane Morris attorneys help manage the dynamic challenges of the energy market. Our attorneys counsel our clients on regulations, transactions, litigation, project development, facility construction, financing, government relations and policy matters concerning energy. Our attorneys draw upon legal and industry experience with fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable sources to find creative solutions to meet our clients’ needs. We have been involved in several renewable energy deals in Vietnam until successful close of the respective deal. We can get bankable deals done.

  1. Describe those individuals/companies/government departments with whom you operate mostly with?

Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam, Institute of Energy, General Department of Energy, EVN, Ministry of Planning and Investment.

  1. Explain the purpose of each of these connections whether they be formal, contracted relationships or informal relationships

They are formal relationships, where I either acted as the Chairman of the Legal Sector Committee of EuroCham, or work on behalf of our clients to connect with the authorities to get better understanding of the regulations in the sector and propose necessary changes.

  1. Describe any customs or habits that are features of doing business in the renewable energy industry? Likewise describe any customs or habits that are features of doing business in Vietnam. Explain how these customs or habits are used?

Build and maintain relationship with Government officials at all levels (central, provincial) is a must. Meetings can be formal or sometimes invite them out for lunch/ dinner. Do not go into too much details of your project or investment plan in the initial meeting. Save it for the next meetings. The first one should only be for “getting to know each other” purpose.

Vietnam has a consensus-driven system, meaning everyone has to say something. Any person has veto right. Thus, to make sure that a decision in favor of your investment is made, you have to gain support of every person who has the decision-making right.

In addition, decision making process in Vietnam has to go through many levels and thus takes quite long. Be patient then.

You should always set up a meeting some weeks in advance. Although some officials are able to communicate in English, it is advised to have a translator/ interpreter.

  1. In your opinion, who are the ‘big players’ within the renewable energy industry within Vietnam? This applies to private companies, national companies, government departments etc. 

EVN as the sole off-taker and its generation companies are the main players in the sector. Besides, the General Department of Energy, the Electricity Regulatory of Vietnam (both under the Ministry of Industry and Trade) play an important role in setting regulatory framework.

  1. Explain any rules or laws that dictate how you must operate within the renewable energy industry and within Vietnam. 

Wind: Decision No. 37/2011/QD-TTg, Circular No. 32/2012/TT-BCT

Biomass: Decision 24/2014/QD-TTg, Circular 44/2015/TT-BCT

Solid-waste power: Decision 31/2014/QD-TTg, Circular 32/2015/TT-BCT

Solar: Decision 11/2017/QD-TTg, Circular guiding the Decision and promulgating the PPA is being drafted

There are a number of laws and documents regulating an investment in Vietnam. I just name some major laws: Investment Law, Enterprise Law, Labor Law, Commercial Law, Civil Code, etc.

  1. In your opinion, to what extent does a hierarchy exist within the renewable energy industry in Vietnam? 

The development of renewable energy industry does not catch up with economic development speed. Although the Government has set out the increasing role of this sector in the energy development plan, I am afraid that the Government may fail to meet its target due to lack of support policies and bankable PPAs.

  1. Describe the main changes that have occurred to the renewable energy industry in Vietnam in the last 10 years. 

The renewable industry in Vietnam is very young. Indeed, it only started developing since the adoption of the Wind Decision in 2011. Following that Decision, the Prime Minister continued completing the legal framework for the sector by introducing Biomass Decision and Solid-Waste Decision in 2014, and the latest Decision being the Solar Decision issued in April 2017. The adoption of these policies was the joint effort of many relevant ministries, including the General Director of Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which was established at the end of 2011 to improve state management in the sector.

In 2009,  the first factory producing solar panels with total investment of USD10 million came into operation in Vietnam. Later in 2010, GE Energy invested USD61 million to establish the first factory producing wind turbines in Hai Duong. This was considered as a boost for the renewable energy market. However, by 2015, renewable energy only accounted for 5% in the total energy output, in which there is no wind and solar power but only small hydro power.

FYI, the first wind power plant came into operation in 2012 in Binh Thuan with a capacity of 30 MW. Recently, the first solar plant in Dong Thap also commenced its operation.
***
Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you!

Solar deals despite doubts: bankable or not, investors dive in

Foreign interest in Vietnam’s solar sector had surged after the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) announced a solar feed-in tariff (FiT) and a draft solar PPA earlier this year.  Concerns over the bankability of the proposed agreement have done little to dampen enthusiasm, with a number of players eager to get a slice of a Southeast Asian success story.

Continue reading Solar deals despite doubts: bankable or not, investors dive in

Vietnam Solar Power  – Taking stock of Vietnam’s solar energy potential – What you must know:

With the latest official issuance of a Solar Decision, Vietnam has made steady progress on its solar energy potential. The FIT is introduced in the Solar Decision to be 9.35 UScents/ kWh for grid-connected solar projects. The draft solar Power Purchase Agreement has also been recently introduced in a draft Circular guiding the Solar Decision by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

This webinar offers valuable insights into the newly formulated framework for Solar PV in the country and covers:

  • The roles and obligations for EVN carried forward by the draft
  • The bankability of the draft solar PPA, its guarantee scheme and room for negotiation
  • Insights how to make most of the opportunity for PV in the market – the 30MW off-grid rule – Getting Solar Power Project done in reasonable time:

More information of the webinar can be found here: https://www.pvtrademissionvietnam.com/webinar;

Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann if you have any questions under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam.

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

 

The sun rises on Vietnam’s energy sector

Over the past three decades Vietnam has witnessed startling economic success thanks to the country’s openness to international trade and investment. The energy sector in particular has grown rapidly, with abundant hydrocarbons and hydropower resources allowing the country to keep pace with the energy demands of a rising population.

 

However, there may be clouds on the horizon. The most easily-accessible resources are running out and imports of coal and gas will be increasingly needed to keep industry chugging along. To maintain its high rate of growth Vietnam will be looking for huge investment over the coming years. In order to do this, and keep to its international greenhouse gas commitments, the government has set its sights on some ambitious targets for solar power generation.

 

Recent decisions issued by the government represent baby steps in this direction. Evidently, there is some enthusiasm for a solar-powered future, but is it enough?

Continue reading The sun rises on Vietnam’s energy sector

Vietnam – Solar Power – Breaking News Update First draft of the solar Power Purchase Agreement released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade

Following the issuance of Decision No. 11/2017/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister on mechanism for encouragement of development of solar power in Vietnam (Decision 11), the Ministry of Industry and Trade released the first draft of a Circular guiding the Decision last month (Draft Circular). The Circular is aimed at providing regulations on formulation, approval and amendment of the national as well as provincial power master plan. In addition, the draft solar Power Purchase Agreement (Draft PPA), which is of great interest for many foreign investors, is also provided in the Circular as a mandatory template for future solar power projects with only minor changes expected to be permitted during the contract negotiations.

In essence, the Draft PPA is almost the same as current applicable PPAs for renewable projects. This creates bankable issues for solar projects and a hindrance to foreign investors planning an investment in the sector.

Feed-in-Tariff (FiT)

The draft Circular repeats the solar FiT for power output from on-grid projects and excessive power output generated from rooftop projects specified in Decision 11 to be VND2,086/kWh or US 9.35 cents/kWh. However, unlike Decision 11, the Draft PPA does not require that the conversion between USD and VND be according to the exchange rate at the time of payment.

EVN’s rights and obligations as the sole off-taker

EVN is delegated to purchase all power output generated from solar power projects pursuant to terms and conditions of the draft PPA within 20 years.

It is noteworthy that the Draft Circular and the Draft PPA list out certain circumstances where EVN is not obliged to purchase power as negotiated with the seller, for example:

  1. when EVN is in the process of installing equipment, or making repairs, replacement, inspection or examination of the grid connection of the seller’s power plant;
  2. when the transmission grid or the distribution grid connected to EVN’s grid has a problem or grid equipment directly connected to EVN’s transmission grid or the distribution grid has a problem; and
  3. when EVN’s grid needs support to recover after the incident in accordance with the provisions of operation of the national power system and the standards, technical regulations of the electric industry.

Unfortunately, the current Draft PPA does not include provisions protecting the interests of the seller in the abovementioned circumstances. It is quite risky for the producer if the output is ready to be fed to the grid but the connection is not available to do so. Absent a clear indication of whether the Draft PPA is a ‘take or pay” agreement, investors will find it difficult to secure and ensure the profits and revenue of their projects.

Dispute resolution

The Draft PPA allows either party to the agreement to bring the dispute to local courts for litigation and other energy-related state bodies of Vietnam (General Directorate of Energy and the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam) for mediation and resolution.

The Draft PPA does not provide for international arbitration to be an option to resolve the dispute. This could be a great concern for foreign investors, especially those of large utility scale projects.

Other key issues of concern

  • No Government guarantee to enhance the credit of EVN as the sole off-taker;
  • No provision addressing the risks of changes in applicable laws; and
  • The Draft PPA is required to follow a specific template, which is not bankable.

While the current Draft PPA leaves certain key issues unresolved, we note that this is only the first draft. Thus, it will be subject to potential revisions before its official adoption. We believe that with lessons learnt from the PPA for other renewable projects, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will complete the Draft PPA towards a mutually beneficial agreement for both the seller and the purchaser.

How to avoid EVN – The 30 MW rule

Considering the monopoly role of EVN as well as tough negotiation of the PPA, investors could still get out of this trouble. According to Article 1.2 of Circular No. 56/2014/TT-BCT promulgating methods to determine electricity generation price and examination steps of the PPA, the important requirement to negotiate with EVN is whether it is an on-grid or off-grid project. If it is an on-grid project with capacity of more than 30 MW or under 30 MW but voluntarily participating in the power market, the investor must negotiate with EVN. This means if the project is off-grid, there will be no requirement to negotiate with EVN. Therefore, if you are new to the market, an off-grid 30MW project or less is a smart option to test the water. Once you have built up your track record, you can go for larger scale projects.

***

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com 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.