Energy transition Strictly calculating to ensure energy security

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5145 5237 4 - Energy transition Strictly calculating to ensure energy security
Developing renewable energy sources is considered an inevitable trend in the world today, it makes an important contribution to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment. Photo: Nguyen Thanh

Pressure on energy transition

Gas and electricity prices simultaneously increased in all continents, from Europe, Asia to South America. Large-scale power outages in China, shortages of oil and gas in Europe are some outlines of the “energy crisis” taking place in many parts of the world.

Assessing that Vietnam could avoid that “energy crisis”, Mr. Ha Dang Son, Director of the Center for Energy Research and Green Growth, said that in the 2020-2021 period, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the electricity load was reduced, so Vietnam could ensure sufficient electricity supply.

However, in the future, when the economy reopens, production and business activities would face many difficulties. Currently, power sources have developed very slowly. With existing sources, due to the influence of climate change, the level of water for hydroelectricity was also a big question. As for renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power, they face great risk of volatility and are difficult to predict.

“Vietnam started to switch to a net energy importer from 2015. Therefore, with the ‘energy crisis’, the increase of fuel prices leads to an increase of input costs for power plants using imported fuels, putting great pressure on the electricity sector,” said Mr. Ha Dang Son.

In order to ensure national energy security when the domestic supply is not sufficient to meet requirements, the level of energy imports is increasing, energy transition is an increasingly urgent issue for Vietnam, especially when the country is integrating deeply into the global economy.

Nguyen Duc Hien, Deputy Head of the Central Economic Commission, said that over the years, Vietnam had always been active in implementing the commitments of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and actively participating in the Paris Agreement within the framework of the United Nations General Convention on Climate Change (COP 21).

In particular, one of the important requirements that Vietnam should fulfill when participating was to promote a strong energy transition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Investment decisions and policies must be made to decarbonize the energy sector.

“The implementation of new-generation Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) also poses requirements to promote energy transition. In addition, Resolution 55-NQ/TW dated February 11, 2020 of the Politburo on the strategic orientation of Vietnam’s national energy development by 2030, with a vision to 2045, has also identified the major viewpoints, goals, tasks, and solutions on energy transition in Vietnam in the future,” said Mr. Nguyen Duc Hien.

“Thinking carefully”

The development of renewable energy sources is considered an inevitable trend in the world today, when it makes an important contribution to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels. According to Mr. Ha Dang Son, Vietnam was in the process of energy restructuring in the direction of increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources, but must ensure that electricity costs were suitable to people’s payment ability, and ensure adequate supply of high-quality electricity for socio-economic development. This was a huge challenge.

For energy transition, Mr. Pham Nguyen Hung, Deputy Director of the Electricity and Renewable Energy Bureau (Ministry of Industry and Trade), pointed out many limitations and difficulties such as: consequences for operational safety, power system security; a transmission increase of 500 kV (because solar/wind power was mostly developed in the South and Central regions, where there was better potential), the impact on capacity mobilization and the number of capacity increases/decreases of thermal power plants, gas turbines.

These factors increase the cost and production price of electricity, especially in the current condition that some types of renewable energy were still much more expensive than the average cost.

Assoc. Pham Hoang Luong, Director of the Vietnam – Japan International Institute of Science and Technology, said that Vietnam’s electric energy system has many differences compared to the world and the set goal must be to ensure adequate supply. Therefore, coal power was still an important form of energy. Of course, in the future, wind power, solar power and hydrogen would play a very dominant role.

The trend of many countries in the world such as China, the US, the EU, is gradually transitioning from coal power to gas and renewable energy. However, Vietnam should pay attention to the implementation time. Thermal power plants in the US have operated for 40 years, are fully amortized and could be converted. And in China, India or Vietnam, factories operating for 10-15 years must calculate how to convert to ensure both economic benefits and power supply for economic development.

“If you want to convert energy and develop renewable energy, storage technology must be a consideration. Currently, there are many solutions to this problem such as: storage batteries, hydroelectricity, along with management technology of electricity consumption such as adjusting the load or using electricity directly from clean power plants in the locality. However, the most important is still the mechanism. For example, a storage system and a mechanism for investors to invest capital confidently, on that basis to plan and ensure the goal of sustainable energy transition. This is not a simple issue,” Prof. Dr. Pham Hoang Luong said.

Thinking that the energy transition should be looked at first from the issue of energy security, Mr. Ha Dang Son said that the transition should be paid attention to in four areas: availability of energy sources; access to energy sources in different regions; people’s payment ability and the acceptance of all kinds of energy in localities.

Currently, the global trend is to increase the proportion of renewable energy. It can be identified that wind power, solar power, and hydrogen gas will be the energy sources in the future. However, like it or not, coal power will still play an important background role. The world will not be able to eliminate coal power “overnight”.

“Therefore, to switch energy from using primary energies (coal, oil) to cleaner forms of energy, Vietnam must study its roadmap, how to change, the process of converting, the ratio of sources in each period. Or do we just blindly follow “Net zero” – zero emissions? I think it is necessary to be of sound mind and to consider scientific studies,” said Mr. Ha Dang Son.

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