Tag Archives: wind

What’s next for green energy in Vietnam – 4 steps to the future

Now that the United States has retreated from the Paris Climate Accords, and relinquished its leadership role in the fight against climate change, it remains to be seen whether smaller nations will stick to their pledges of greenhouse gas reduction.

Eyes are on countries like Vietnam to see if they keep to their commitments or revert to the pursuit of cheap and dirty coal-powered solutions for their energy needs.

Vietnam, in particular, faces some of the biggest risks. Global warming is a major threat to the country, where rising sea levels are predicted to swallow up nearly half of the Mekong Delta, a crucial area for domestic food production, in coming decades.

Currently, coal-fired plants in Vietnam contribute to thousands of premature deaths and air quality in big cities is getting worse. In 2017, the capital Hanoi enjoyed just 38 days of clean air, with contaminant levels four times those deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization.

Business as usual?

Unlike Obama, the Trump administration seems unlikely to apply any real pressure on other countries to pursue clean energy or combat climate change, and so it will be up to domestic forces to really push for change.

According to the government’s current national plan, electricity generated from coal will rise five-fold between now and 2030, and GHG emissions will increase in lockstep. This is at odds with Vietnam’s pledge to the Paris Climate Accord, which targets 8 percent emissions reduction by 2030, and could rise as high as a 25 percent reduction with international support, such as financing for solar panels and wind turbines.

Energy and environment experts worry that the country’s next national power development plan, which is under revision this year, could hold to those figures or, worse, embrace a more aggressive coal strategy.

The story, however, is not all doom and gloom. Vietnam does have the potential to become a regional clean energy leader, if only the country’s energy development and investment environment can be reshaped. Business involvement in this process will be crucial, as the commercial and industrial sectors consume more than 60 percent of Vietnam’s electricity.

Khanh Nguy Thi, founder of the Vietnamese nonprofit Green Innovation and Development Centre, recently won the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize for her work convincing state agencies to increase their use of renewable energy. Her efforts were instrumental in halting the construction of two hydropower plants in a national park and securing a 20,000 MW reduction in planned coal expansion.

Government leaders have also demonstrated a desire to utilise Vietnam’s abundant sunlight and over 2,026 miles of coastline in the pursuit of renewable energy.

4 solutions for a sustainable energy sector

Clearly, clean energy opportunities are available, the question is how to encourage more investment. Obstacles persist with the regulatory environment, preventing the country from tapping its potential in this area. Here are four small changes which could bridge the gap between policy and implementation, ensuring the green energy dream becomes a reality:

  1. Streamline regulations regarding Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and support the use of Direct Power Purchase Agreements (DPPA).

Negotiating standard PPAs with EVN, the sole power purchaser, is time-consuming, which cause rising total project costs. The streamlining of such deals would render them more attractive to power producers and cut lengthy approval time, which often leads to execution delays or complete abandonment of projects.

USAID and Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade are working together to enable private sector electricity buyers and renewable energy providers to enter into DPPA. This would allow industrial energy buyers to purchase electricity directly from independent renewable energy producers.

Such a mechanism would help companies enjoy constant power prices and ultimately save power costs. By signing a long-term DPPA to buy power from a clean energy generator, businesses can have a constant power price, reducing risk and helping firms establish long-term business plans with no surprises down the road.

  1. Improve the transparency of electricity rate forecasting.

Electricity prices will have to increase in order for Vietnam’s national utility to finance new energy projects, but the schedule for such increases remains vague. Better transparency of expected price increases will allow buyers and investors to more accurately value fixed-cost renewable energy contracts, which can offer some price protection.

Additionally, improving the quality and sourcing of data on renewable energy can help clarify for investors available locations, infrastructure capabilities and government targets, as well as other information to help reduce risk on investment decisions.

  1. Encourage supporting industries.

Supporting industries plays a crucial role in the development and adoption of renewable energy technologies. The government should promote domestic SMEs through capital subsidy and incentives such as tax breaks and preferential loans. A competitive supporting industry will help in reducing the tariff and investment costs for renewable projects, nurturing their development as part of Vietnam’s energy sector.

  1. Develop a renewable energy model for industrial parks.

Given the expectation that industrial areas will continue to play a big role in Vietnamese manufacturing and commerce, these parks are an important place to explore renewable solutions. Aggregating demand from tenants in the parks would help scale clean energy and make it more affordable for all.

Green power pioneer

Renewable energy has the capacity to power Vietnam and with the right policies in place, the country can deliver affordable, safe and clean power for continued economic growth.

Vietnamese businesses and the government could chart an unprecedented course for clean energy, and represent a role model for Southeast Asia — if they can address some key barriers. The changes detailed above would help drive the country’s energy transition toward a sustainable, greener future, and demonstrate that the fight against climate change can continue without American leadership.

For more information about Vietnam’s renewable 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.

Land speculation clouds Vietnam’s renewable energy projects

Vietnam’s southern province of Ninh Thuan continues to see growth in its renewable energy resources, with Spain’s Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) winning in its bid for the second phase of the existing 39MW Dam Nai wind farm.

 

According to the plan, the company will supply 12 turbines by October this year. SGRE will also handle the management and maintenance of the facility over the course of the next ten years for Dam Nai’s operator, independent power producer Blue Circle.

 

The first phase of the Dam Nai wind farm kicked off in April last year, with total investment capital of US$15 million. During the first phase SGRE installed three turbines, which are already operational. Siemens Gamesa has said it expects “significant growth” in Vietnam over the coming years as the country “begins to utilise some of the best wind resources in Southeast Asia.”

 

As of April 2018, the country had 197MW of installed wind power capacity, split between 98MW onshore and 99MW offshore.

 

On top of turbines, the province of Ninh Thuan has also been targeted by firms for solar power development, thanks to its status as one of the driest areas of the country. A number of companies have already signed up to develop projects in the province. However, despite excellent solar conditions, a growing economy and a strong manufacturing base, Vietnam’s solar ambitions have been relatively modest compared to its near-neighbors in the region.

 

Not all blue skies

 

Vietnam is among the most promising renewable energy markets in Southeast Asia, offering significant opportunities for investment in clean energy, especially wind and solar power. With a population touching 92 million and energy demand forecast to grow by 13 percent annually over the next four years, the country is eyeing an energy policy that includes a substantial mix of renewables.

 

According to the government’s revised Power Development Master Plan VII, Vietnam needs investment in the power sector amounting to US$150 billion for the period up to 2030 in order to keep pace with the nation’s projected annual growth of 10-12 percent. The renewable energy sector is considered a priority for investment with contributions set at 7 percent by 2020 and 10 percent by 2030.

 

A large number of firms have already been lured to take advantage of the market’s huge potential. A recent report by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) found that in the solar power sector, as of 2017, more than 100 new projects had been planned, including 70 in the province of Binh Thuan.

 

There are, however, issues hindering the sustainable development of the sector. These include poor administration and low transparency, leading to corruption among investors and officials. The major risks are related to programming and licensing of investors and access to land. The rosy picture of deals hides a more problematic truth.

 

Many investors registering projects don’t intend to join the market immediately, but instead are snapping up advantageous plots of land. For wind and solar power projects in particular, location is everything. Areas with strong and consistent natural wind or intense sunshine will inevitably bring better returns for firms who set up shop with their panels or turbines.

 

One expert said that nearly all land plots in advantageous positions are now occupied, though the renewable power plants remain on paper, and may never be developed. This speculation over land poses a risk of harming the market, and slowing the much-needed transformation of Vietnam’s energy sector.

 

As the top spots get booked up, real investors will have to stump up a premium for their projects, or shell out fees for intermediaries. Transparency in development programming, licensing procedures and project execution supervision is a must for the market to run effectively.

 

Coupled with relatively low feed-in tariffs (FiT) and arduous legislative hurdles to overcome, the added headache of a premium on land may cause investors to look elsewhere when considering locations for their renewable power projects.

 

A recent StoxPlus report has identified 245 renewable energy projects currently in Vietnam, including wind and solar power as well as biomass, which are being deployed at different stages. Obviously, if all planned projects begin operation the country’s targets would be met overnight. However, of the total projects, only 19 percent have reached the construction phase and 8 percent have begun operation. Most projects are still in the preparatory stages.

 

Investors are also struggling with a lack of clear information about the market. Even though information about renewable energy projects in Vietnam has been floating around, there is no clear details on the number of projects or their development status, creating confusion and uncertainty among developers and other stakeholders.

 

Joint ventures between foreign and domestic enterprises may help to address some of these bottlenecks – with local firms providing some much-needed information and international players adding the technical know-how that is lacking from the domestic market. This is, unfortunately, only a partial solution. In the long term, a stronger legislative framework will be needed to support to sustainable development of the renewable power sector in Vietnam, and help the country to meet its targets and support its booming energy needs.

 

For more information about Vietnam’s renewable 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 – Wind Power Breaking News – One of the first foreign financed Wind PPAs signed – Duane Morris advised on this transaction – What you must know

 

EAB New Energy GmbH (“EAB”), a German privately held SME with business activities around the world (Asia, Latin America, South Africa), engaged Duane Morris Vietnam LLC to advise on one of the very first privately financed Wind Energy Power Purchase Agreements for a wind power project in Vietnam – the “Mui Dinh” wind project (SPV el-wind Mui Dinh LLC) with a total investment value at final stage of about 60 Million USD.

EAB, in close co-operation with its subsidiary in Vietnam – WPV Wind Power Vietnam LLC, has received the Construction Permit for the wind power plant in Ninh Thuan province and will start the wind farm construction works in due course. Duane Morris Vietnam LLC advised EAB in the negotiation of the Wind Power Purchase Agreement with the Electricity of Vietnam (“EVN”) to connect into to the national electricity and sell electricity to EVN (the “Project”). The Wind Power Purchase Agreement was signed on 01 February 2016. This is one of the first signed Wind Power PPA in Vietnam and EAB is one of the first foreign companies with this success.

Given the fact that Vietnam’s wind energy potential is highly appreciated by investors in comparison to its ASEAN neighbours, and very good for building large wind power plants, the success of this Project is considered to pave the way for development of another 40 wind power development in Vietnam, roughly 513,360 megawatts.

This is the beginning of a sizeable privately financed wind energy sector in Vietnam.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you want to know more details on the above or need our assistance in your project. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

 

 

Vietnam Wind Energy – Eurocham Legal Sector Committee – Meeting with Chairman of EVN Mr Duong Quang Thanh – Presenting Major Legal Issues for Getting Deals Done

On 18 December 2015, Mr. Oliver Massmann, the Managing Partner of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Chairman of the Legal Sector Committee of Eurocham, attended the conference “EVN-HCMC Dialogue with Korean, American and European enterprises” held by EVN HCMC.

Besides the presentation on how to improve the quality of power supply in Vietnam of EVN HCMC, Mr. Massmann had an opportunity to give a speech in Vietnamese and raise major issues in relation to wind power energy projects in Vietnam, including:
– The Government offers low FiT rate in comparison to the investment of the investors;
– Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is required to follow a specific template, which is not bankable;
– The PPA template is unclear whether it is a “take or pay” agreement;
– There is no clear guidance and procedure to obtain the approval for the amendment of the PPA template.

The speech received the sympathy from many foreign investors in the conference. Mr. Duong Quang Thanh, the Chairman of the Members’ Council of EVN, well received the comments with positive feedback and personally congratulated Mr. Massmann for the successful speech after the event.

Followings are the brief analysis of the issues and the response from Mr. Thanh to each issue.
1. Low FiT rate
– Mr. Massmann raised the concern that the FiT, as regulated in Decision No. 37/2011/QD-TTg, is 7.8 cents USD/kWh, equivalent to 1,614VND/kWh, is very low compared to the investment capital of the investors in the projects. Accordingly, such purchase price cannot ensure the profits for the investors. Therefore, instead of fixing the price, the Government can regulate the ceiling price and give the parties the rights to negotiate the price. In addition, it would be appreciated if EVN can share information about the exact timeline that the new FiT would be published.
– As discussed by Mr. Thanh, EVN understood the concern of the investors on the low FiT. The Government is considering the issue. However, Mr. Thanh could not say exactly when the new FiT will be published.
2. The PPA template is not bankable
– Mr. Massmann recommended to enhance the bankability of the PPA, such as to clearly define force majeure events (Articles 5.1 and 5.3 of the template PPA) and distinguish the natural force majeure event and force majeure event due to political issue; to clearly define events of default of either Seller and Buyer (Articles 6.2 and 6.3 of the template PPA).
– In response, Mr. Thanh explained that the purpose of PPA template is to cut down the negotiation process between the parties. EVN noted the comments and will propose to amend the template.
3. The PPA template is unclear whether it is a “take or pay” agreement
– Mr. Massmann suggested that in order to secure and ensure the profits and revenue of the project, it must be clear that it is a “take or pay” agreement. Because under the current template, EVN will be released from the obligation to purchase the power in specific circumstances.
– Said by Mr. Thanh, for the time being, it is difficult to make clear that this is a “take or pay” agreement as the power generated from the wind power projects will depends on many factors, such as speed and force of the wind. However, EVN noted the comment and will consider to amend the PPA template.
4. No clear procedure to obtain approval for amendment of PPA
– Mr. Massmann addressed that in practice, the parties will need to agree on the additional agreements suitable for each project. Therefore, although the template PPA is compulsory, in case the parties are willing to amend, there must be a clear procedure to obtain the approval for the amendment of the PPA.
– On behalf of EVN, Mr. Thanh noted the comment and will consider to propose appropriate changes.

Although the issues raised by Mr. Massmann could not be addressed in details during the conference, Mr. Thanh said that EVN would do their best to cooperate and would research on the appropriate solution and propose to the Government for amendment in the future.
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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.