Vietnamese market momentum attracts another 100 MW

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As the Vietnamese solar market continued to gain momentum – at least until the weekend – announcements of new projects keep pouring in.

Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has achieved commercial operation of its Vinh Hao 6 Solar project in the province of Binh Thuan and inverter maker SMA said it has inked a contract to supply seven medium voltage power stations to another 50 MW site, in Ninh Thuan province.

SMA is partnering with Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Company subsidiary Gelex Ninh Thuan Energy One Member Limited Company for the project.

“The turnkey SMA container solution Medium Voltage Power Station 6000 (MVPS), with preconfigured, perfectly harmonized components made easy transportation, simple installation and smooth commissioning of PV farms possible,” said Duong Pham Xuan, project manager of Hanoi-based construction firm Songda 9 Construction and Investment JSC. “At the same time, power plant operator Gelex is benefiting from considerable system cost reductions and high energy yields.”

SMA said the power plant is in the southern province of Ninh Thuan. The region boasts an average of 2,600-2,800 hours of sunshine per year and has 27 solar projects with a cumulative generation capacity of 1,808 MW in the pipeline.

The inverter maker said it has already installed 500 MW of its products in Vietnam and is looking to continue to work through an extensive pipeline. In April the power electronics specialist was involved in the realization of another 54 MW solar plant, in Dak Nong, which was eligible for the $.0935 feed-in tariff.

Meanwhile, Saudi utility and developer ACWA Power said it had reached commercial operation on a 50 MW project with Fecon, a Vietnamese infrastructure construction company. The partners have together invested $58 million in the project which they expect to generate 83 million kWh per year. As the site received its certificate for commercial operation on June 18 it was also eligible for the $.0935 feed-in tariff. At that price and with project costs and generation potential taken into account, the payback period for the facility is expected to be just under 7.5 years.

June rush for FITs

As the generous incentive scheme was set to expire on Sunday, Vietnam’s government was expecting some 4 GW of solar generation capacity to be rushed towards commercial operation by that date.

Up to mid-April, Vietnam had connected only four solar plants with a cumulative capacity of 150 MW to the grid. By the end of May, however, 34 more solar plants with a cumulative capacity of 2.2 GW had been connected.

The Vietnamese government said it expected another 54 solar projects entitled to the 20-year FIT set in April 2017 to come online last month. That would mean another gigawatt or two of capacity may have been grid connected.

In a statement released in late May, the Vietnam Power Group utility said 61 projects were awaiting connection and hinted another seven FIT-eligible large scale solar plants had achieved commercial operation as staff had worked around the clock in the previous six days.