Realizing Vietnam’s ambitions to jump-start renewable energy transition

Vietnam's commitments at COP26 on energy transition is highly appreciated by countries around the world. However, the country has to make great efforts in order to realize this ambition.

Great potentials for renewable energy

Developing green energy, also known as renewable energy, is becoming more and more important to the sustainable economic development of countries.

Renewable energy is the world’s trend in development. Vietnam has great potential for this industry. (Photo: Vneconomy)
Renewable energy is the world’s trend in development. Vietnam has great potential for this industry. (Photo: Vneconomy)

The transition to renewable energy is a change in policy, structure and technology from the production and consumption of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) to renewable energy (such as wind, solar, water, biomass, hydrogen, biofuels, etc.)

According to the World Bank (WB), Vietnam currently has the most comprehensive installed solar power capacity in Southeast Asia, with 16,500MW generated in 2020. Moreover, the country was among the Top 10 nations globally, with the most solar energy capacity installed in 2020.

Alongside that, Vietnam’s climate and topography make renewable energy, especially wind power, a significant prospect for investment. Vietnam's vast wind resources are thanks to the long and narrow geographical shape of the country, with more than 3,000 km of coastline, including hills and mountains.

According to WB, more than 39 percent of Vietnam has wind speeds more than 6 meters per second (m/s) at 65 meters, equivalent to 512 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. Vietnam assumes excellent potential, with 8.6 percent of its land area suitable for large wind farms.

Recently, Vietnam witnessed a rapid growth in solar power. Solar power capacity will increase from 86 MW in 2018 to about 16.500 MW in 2020. This is considered the first step in Vietnam’s energy transition away from coal.

According to experts, Vietnam has a lot of potential for renewable energy. However, the development of these energy sources in Vietnam is still slow compared to the growth rate of the global power industry.

However, in the process of orienting and developing policies for the development of renewable energy, Vietnam is still facing many difficulties and challenges in terms of land, capital, connection to the national power grid, public clearance, productivity, limitations in accessing new technologies and economic efficiency, backup sources, mechanisms and policies...

Recently, Vietnam witnessed a rapid growth in solar power. (Photo: Bao Dau tu)
Recently, Vietnam witnessed a rapid growth in solar power. (Photo: Bao Dau tu)

Strong determination needed

At the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the United Kingdom, Vietnam committed to achieving net-zero by 2050. Vietnam's commitment is highly approved by countries around the world. However, Vietnam also has to make great efforts in order to realize this ambition.

According to the statement by Prof. Dr. Pham Hoang Luong, Director of the Vietnam-Japan International Institute for Science and Technology, in order to achieve that ambition, Vietnam must: ensure energy security (provide sufficient and quality electricity), provide energy at an acceptable cost, and fulfill Vietnam's environmental protection commitments to the international community.

During the webinar “Asia: Renewable Energy Continent”, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment proposed 7 focus points to fully unleash the potential of renewable energy, as well as accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy in Asia as a whole, and Vietnam in particular:

First, renewable energy needs to become a public good that serves all people, so that everyone can have access to and benefit from the development of renewable energy and energy transition. In particular, communities or groups that are affected by the energy transition need to be provided support in terms of livelihoods and training for vocational transition.

Second, it is necessary to promote cooperation between countries in removing barriers, including those in intellectual property rights, to encourage the sharing of knowledge and the collaboration in scientific research, development, and technology transfer of renewable energy from developed to developing countries.

Third, policies play a crucial role in promoting energy transition. Therefore, every country needs appropriate policies and frameworks to encourage the business community to increase investments in renewable energy, as well as to promote energy transition, from the planning stage, to licensing, management, and operation of renewable energy development projects.

Fourth, targets related to developing renewable energy, achieving net-zero emissions, and reducing air pollution should be established, which would serve as criteria for making investment decisions and developing energy projects. In particular, commitment and accountability of the financial system (including multilateral development banks, financial and credit institutions) are necessary through aligning their lending portfolios towards accelerating the renewable energy transition.

Fifth, there should be increased investment in power transmission systems to maximize the benefits of wind and solar energy production, and more investment into infrastructure projects that accelerate the application of clean technologies such as electric vehicles, for example, electric cars and motorbikes.

Sixth, in addition to efforts to bolster energy transition and unleash the potential of renewable energy, it is necessary to synchronously implement other solutions, such as the restoration of natural ecosystems that are resilient to climate change; to enhance adaptation capacity and carbon storage; promoting a circular economy in order to make the most out of resources while conserving resources for future generations; and deploying technology solutions for storing and burying carbon to contribute to the realization of net zero target; etc.

Finally, in order to promote renewable energy development in Asia commensurate with its potential, there must be active participation of media and press agencies in the region. The news and media agencies will contribute to spreading the message about the urgency of energy transition, as well as helping the business community and people better understand about the economic, environmental, and social benefits brought about by renewable energy.

According to Nguyen Van Vy, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Energy Association, in order to achieve the goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, great determination from the whole political system is required.

He stresses: "Calculating all options such as promoting afforestation, greening bare land and bare hills, burning waste directly so as not to emit CO2, using modern technologies for energy, the most important factor is developing renewable energy and this source must account for 80-90% of the system’s total capacity. Only then can Vietnam achieve its commitments at COP26.”

Nuclear power development needs to ensure international standards: Deputy Foreign Minister
Vietnam to ‘kill two birds with one stone' method in response to climate change
Roundtable discusses governance, finance for equitable energy transition in Vietnam
Vietnam, US hold fourth energy security dialogue
Tasks, solutions set to fulfill COP26 commitments