Largest Thai solar firm plans to invest US$1.76 billion in Vietnam’s wind power project


Thailand’s biggest solar energy company, Superblock Pcl, plans to invest 56 billion baht (USD1.76 billion) to install 700 megawatts (MW) of wind farms in Vietnam.

Jormsup Lochaya, Superblock Pcl’s Chairman, told the media that the first phase of the investment will cost 20.7 billion baht and consist of three near-shore farms with 142 MW of capacity in Bac Lieu province, 98 MW in Soc Trang province and 100 MW in Ca Mau province, all in southern Vietnam.

Construction has already begun and Jormsup expects the sites to be operating by 2020.

The second phase of 360 MW of capacity will also be built in those three provinces and construction will begin when the first phase concludes, he said.

Vietnam’s young population, growing economy and industries will increase power consumption in the country by 10 percent annually, making it an important market, Jormsup said.

Vietnam wants to meet that demand with less air pollution, he said, citing Thailand’s own problems with pollution.

“This week Bangkok had an air pollution problem,” Jormsup told Reuters, referring to a spike in pollutants in the city.

“Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have similar problems and the Vietnamese want clean and cheap energy – this is driving renewable energy growth,” he said, adding that costs are much lower and that Vietnamese government policy on renewables is clear.

Vietnam currently has wind power capacity of 140 MW, with a goal to reach 6,000 MW by 2030, according to government data.

Financing for the Vietnam projects will come from its turnkey partner, a state-owned Chinese construction company, and the sites will be built on land leased for 49 years. The area is near existing transmission lines, the remnants of a canceled coal-fired power project, he said.

Jormsup said Superblock was considering additional investment in a 50 MW solar farm in Vietnam and would make a full decision by the second quarter of this year.

International investors, including those from Denmark, are really keen on exploring Vietnam’s market with untapped huge potentials for wind power development, said Bo Monsted, Commercial Counselor at the Danish Embassy in Vietnam.

Investment in renewable energy is in line with Vietnam’s policy on developing alternative energy sources to ensure energy security and protect the environment, Monsted said.

Pham Trong Thuc, a representative of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the Government of Vietnam has encouraged capable international enterprises to invest in wind power, thus transferring their technologies to local producers, adding that numerous incentives will be offered to them.

Vietnam’s wind power potential has not been fully tapped, particularly in the central region of Vietnam. There are only four operating projects, with a combined capacity of over 159 MW.

The price of wind power in Vietnam remains low, but this is not the biggest concern for investors, said Nguyen Viet Dung, Director of the Vestas Vietnam Company.

Dung said wind resources are crucial to the success of a wind power project, adding that with high wind reserves, wind power projects in Vietnam are highly attractive to investors.

He also emphasized competition in the sector, saying that investors have to use advanced technologies to ensure their projects are effective and competitive.


Photo: CBR Investment AG