The Bach Khoa Investment and Development of Solar Energy Corporation (SolarBK) recently attended the ASEAN Solar + Energy Storage Congress & Expo 2018 (ASESCE 2018) in Manila, the Philippines, where a representative delivered an address entitled “Exploring the Potential of Vietnam Renewables with the Next Round of FiT”, one of a series of panels and discussions.

This was the third holding of the annual event, which is the largest congress on the solar and energy storage market in the ASEAN region and attracting more than 1,000 participants.

ASESCE 2018 brought together speakers from worldwide to discuss and propose ideas for “green” economic development in Southeast Asia in the future. The expo heard of the current state of the solar energy sector in the region and the challenges and opportunities in the fast-paced technological era and also provided information on solar and energy storage markets in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Mr. Mai Van Trung, Business Development Director of SolarBK, and representatives from developed countries in renewable energy such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and the Philippines participated in the discussion on the solar energy sector in Vietnam. Mr. Trung provided information on the renewable energy market and shared some key operating activities of SolarBK after the introduction of FiT (feed-in-tariff) policies from the Vietnamese Government.

SolarBK came to ASESCE 2018 with the purpose of sharing experiences in the implementation of local micro-grid projects, thereby opening up opportunities for cooperation and deployment of such projects in Vietnam. It was also an opportunity for SolarBK to learn from the achievements of other countries and hear predictions and opinions on Vietnam’s market.

Potential for micro-grid development

ASESCE 2018 gave an overview of solar power development in Southeast Asia through reports, analysis, and forecasts. The event is not only a prestigious forum connecting and facilitating networks among businesses in the solar energy sector but also an information source providing practical experience on micro-grid projects and energy storage systems.

From the valuable information collected, SolarBK intends to study investment trends in energy storage systems to optimize the abundant solar energy resources in Vietnam. It will also select the right partner to cooperate with and invest in deploying offshore micro-grid projects and building energy storage systems to increase the stability of the local electricity grid and to benefit domestic customers.

The importance of the energy storage systems mentioned at the event is worth considering and will probably become a trend among domestic clean energy businesses in the years to come. It is also reason for the government to continue introducing more incentive schemes for clean energy in Vietnam.

More opportunities than challenges

The FiT purchase price in Vietnam is 9.35 US cents per kWh and in the Philippines 17 US cents. Still, 9.35 US cents is a relatively generous figure for Vietnam considering the selling price of 7.6 US cents/kWh in Vietnam compared to 19 US cents/kWh in the Philippines - the highest selling price in Southeast Asia. This demonstrates the high profitability of solar power in Vietnam when the price difference of buying and selling electricity is 1.75 US cents/kWh.

The potential of solar energy development in Vietnam, especially rooftop PV, is huge not only for domestic project developers but also for foreign partners and investors.

FiT policies have been established in Vietnam since 2017. Although the price for clean energy is still lower than many other countries in the region, Vietnam will soon catch up with growth thanks to increasing energy demand as well as its natural advantages and the dynamic nature of domestic firms.

In order to solve the problem of energy for economic development, Vietnam is developing policies in two directions: using energy efficiently and using environmentally-friendly technology for energy generation. It is heading towards being a low-carbon economy, changing production models and electricity consumption to be sustainable and shifting from the inefficient use of fossil fuels to the effective use of renewable energy sources.