HCMC – Many investors have been ready to take part in the solar power industry but they are still waiting for specific regulations from the Government to set prices.
“We have prepared US$30 million, bought a land lot in Binh Thuan Province and obtained a license for a 24MW solar power project. All we are waiting for is specific rules on solar power prices before starting construction,” Diep Bao Canh, general director of Red Sun Solar Energy JSC, said at a seminar on solar power development in southern Vietnam on November 23.
Other companies are also looking for government regulations on prices. According to a draft, relevant agencies have suggested a solar power price of 11.2 to 13.2 U.S. cents per kWh, which is attractive enough for investors to join the renewable energy sector, Canh added.
Huynh Kim Tuoc, director of the HCMC Energy Conservation Center, said the sector has seen positive signs with investors such as Thanh Thanh Cong, Song Hong Group, Hoa Sen Group and foreign firms from Thailand and Germany. They have plans to develop projects from 30 to 100MW each.
However, investors still face difficulties due to the lack of policies on planning and pricing as well as land use procedures. The challenges are expected to last three or five more years.
To overcome these challenges, investors are advised to invest in solar powerprojects replacing power sources at industrial zones, factories and restaurants which are customers of the Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN). The solution is more effective than investing in a solar farm, Tuoc said.
Speaking to the Daily at the seminar, Gavin Smith, director of Dragon Capital’s Clean Development fund, said the fund management firm has plans to invest US$15 million in 14 solar power projects with pre-feasibility studies already done. The projects, which belong to a solar power development program in the south, are expected to go up in HCMC, Dong Nai, Long An and Binh Duong provinces with the combined capacity of 18 million kWh a year.
Despite huge potential, investors in Vietnam still face some disadvantages, especially low power prices, Smith said.
Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam has yet to keep up with Thailand and the Philippines, which are attractive to investors thanks to solar power prices at 16 U.S. cents per kWh. Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh have also offered high electricity prices, he said.
Vietnam has strong potential for solar power development but solar energy is still little used.