Vietnam seeks more electricity supply from China, Laos to ease summer power shortage

Vietnam will ramp up its electricity imports from the neighboring countries of China and Laos in a bid to ease imminent power shortages over the summer months.

State utility Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) will ramp up its electricity imports from the neighboring countries of China and Laos in a bid to ease imminent power shortages over the summer months, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday.

"We are consistently operating without power plant backup reserve," said EVN General Director Tran Dinh Nhan. "The EVN has utilized all available energy sources, including costly options such as diesel and fuel oil, to ensure power system stability and safety."

A part of the northern province of Quang Ninh is set to start using electricity entirely provided by a Chinese company in south China's Guangxi from Wednesday until at least July.

It is not the first time Vietnam has bought electricity from China to cope with a lack of electricity in the Southeast Asian country.

The state-run utility EVN will also increase power imports from Laos through the Nam Kong and Nam San hydropower plant clusters.

Vietnam's sole electricity distributor has warned of electricity shortages this summer as a result of extremely hot and dry weather, with reduced output for its hydro plants and coal-fired generators that keep breaking down due to recurring technical errors.

As the northern provinces in the country enter the hot season during the May-July period, power consumption in the area is forecast to increase 15 percent from a year ago, causing an electricity shortage of between 1,600 and 4,900 megawatts, the EVN said.

The state utility group has come up with a series of measures which would come into effect should there be a serious lack of electricity.

The group called for more supplies of coals and gas for power generation and made appeals to the public to reduce electricity use with certain restrictions, such as turning off advertising lighting during the night.

The EVN seemed to turn to rotating outages in order to maintain the stability of the grid but with efforts made to avoid any impact on critical infrastructure, and emergency services.

People living in the central districts of the southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City have reportedly endured power cuts of up to six hours per day and twice a week, according to the Saigon Giai Phong newspaper.

In the latest attempt to avert an energy shortage, the EVN has just concluded negotiations with some wind and solar power generators to put a total of 1.15 gigawatts of clean electricity on the national grid at a temporary price equal to 50 percent of the ceiling price in the bracket set by the trade ministry.

However, as of May 21, only 85 megawatts or 7.4 percent of the capacity in the interconnection queue lines was put on the national power grid.

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