Vietnam needs to quickly identify technological solutions that will help mitigate the impact of substantial changes to its power network in terms of various renewable energy (vRE) integration, while at the same time supporting increased demand side management, Mr. Ingmar Stelter, Director of the MoIT/GIZ Energy Support Programme, told the “Technology Assessment for Smart Grids Application in Vietnam” workshop on August 15 in Hanoi.

“Vietnam’s power system is currently seeing a rapid increase in vRE penetration into the grid, in particular large-scale solar power,” he told the gathering. “Given the substantial pipeline of solar and wind power projects, this trend will most likely continue over the coming years. In addition, the development of large-scale vRE power plants will be complemented by the rapid development of smaller, decentralized power generation units, especially solar rooftop applications.”

The workshop was part of the Smart Grids for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, which is being jointly implemented by the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

It was attended by representatives of international development partners, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) and its subsidiaries, the Electric Power University, and the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Universities of Science and Technology, together with private investors and international and local experts.

“MoIT has instructed relevant electricity agencies to complete the first phase and to continue the second phase of the strategy on developing the smart grid in Vietnam after seven years of implementing Decision No. 1670/QD-TTg, which was signed by the government on November 8, 2012,” said Mr. Nguyen The Huu, Director of the Power System Department at ERAV. “We expect to receive input from technical experts at this workshop so we can meet with consultants to review and propose appropriate solutions for Vietnam’s electricity system in the future.”

National and international consultants presented reviews of Vietnam’s Smart Grid Road Map, analyses of current and past activities on smart grids in the country, and the outlook for national and international smart energy trends with potential relevance for the country’s energy system in the future.

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition/Energy Monitoring System (SCADA/EMS) has extended monitoring and automated control to most of the transmission grid as well as Automatic Generation Control (AGC) connection capability to all power plants above 30MW. All 500kV transformers and reactors are equipped with Dissolved Gas-in-Oil Analysis (DGA) while important 220kV transformers are to be equipped with the DGA device at a later date.

At the large scale, many power corporations are successfully deploying Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) to most of their customers while the remainder target covering all customers in the system within the next one to two years.

At the small scale, Electric Vehicles (EVs) and EV charging stations are not widely available. However, in a pilot project undertaken by the Central Power Corporation (EVNCPC), several electric cars are available in tourist locations such as Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue. Three types of EVs are being used in this pilot project: electrical, hybrid, and tourist cars. Energy storage has not yet been deployed on a wider scale, while microgrids are available only on some islands. For example, Phu Quy Island has installed 6MW of wind power alongside 10MW of diesel capacity, with another 1MW of solar power expected this year.

Consultants also introduced international trends for possible future applications in Vietnam to support the increasing integration of vRE to the national power grid, including Forecasting, online Dynamic Security Assessment (online DSA), Smart Inverters, Smart Meters, Virtual Power Plants, Demand Side Management (DSM) and Demand Response (DR), Battery, and Pumped Storage power plants.  

Presentations were followed by open discussions among stakeholders to solicit feedback on the most suitable smart grid technologies for Vietnam. Based on stakeholder input, consultants will develop a priority list for the future introduction of suitable smart energy technologies in the country with respect to vRE integration and energy efficiency.

To maintain the security of the power system and to better balance supply and demand, grid operators must expand and upgrade their infrastructure. In particular, smart grid technologies not only allow the transmission of electricity but also increase levels of information and communication between the various system components, which can improve reliability, security, and efficiency in the power system.