Energy transition needs clear long-term plan with science based evidence

Speaking at the High-Level Meeting of the Vietnam Energy Partnership Group (VEPG), a representative of VIETSE highlighted the change in the structure of VEPG’s technical groups, affirming that the energy transition requires a great change in thinking, and flexibility in organizational structure. The fact that VEPG receives comments from independent research organizations and businesses is a remarkable innovation.

In fact, the energy transition in Vietnam has already started and is gathering increasing momentum. Especially in the last 3 years, starting from a country with a negligible installed capacity of solar and wind power, Vietnam has risen to become a leading country in renewable energy development in South East Asia. With a total installed capacity of 20 GW, including more than 16 GW of solar power and 4 GW of wind power in the period of 2019 – 2021.

Yet, the progress is meant to be accelerated for aligning with the global climate commitment of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5 Celsius by the end of the century. Pushing sustainable and reliable energy transition now become more needed than ever given the country’s pledge for Net Zero by 2050 with internal resource and international support, as stated by the Prime Minister in COP26.

In such a transition, it is crucial to balance between the energy security and climate targets. What Vietnam decided to do next, especially how the country will shape the future of its power sector (through the upcoming Power development plan or PDP 8) will lay a concrete foundation for the roadmap toward carbon-neutrality.

To contribute to the process, Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition (VIETSE) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have conducted several decarbonize scenarios for Vietnam’s power sector under the support of Energy Transition Partnership (ETP) and Energy Transition Council (ETC).

The analyses show the most relevant alternative scenario for Vietnam needs to orient power sector according to the following objectives: 

  1. Reducing the elasticity from 1.3 in 2019 to 1.0 in 2025 ,and 0.8 in 2030.
  2. In the economic restructuring roadmap, it is necessary to set a specific target to be achieved in 2030, which is to reduce energy consumption per GDP by 2.5 – 3% annually to improve energy efficiency to 10% by 2030. This is considered an important strategy to ensure the sustainable development of the economy.
  3. Optimizing the decision-making system for efficient water usage for the Inter-reservoir Hydropower system in order to improve power generation productivity, reduce negative impacts on people’s lives downstream, and at the same time improve the flexibility of Vietnam’s power system.
  4. Aiming to increase the installed capacity of renewable energy to compensate for fossil fuel projects that cannot be deployed, by a combination of 5GW rooftop solar power, 9.6GW floating solar power, and 10 GW offshore wind by 2030.
  5. Reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation from 42% according to the draft PDP8 to 27% by 2030.
  6. Increase investment in upgrading power grid infrastructure, energy ports, developing renewable energy sources, forecasting systems to support decision making, and designing new financial mechanisms to mobilize financial sources for the energy sector efficiently.

Under this scenario, by 2030 the sector can further reduce 32% emissions compared to the latest Draft PDP8 (version October 2021) and 60% emissions compared to NDC’s BAU. It also helps to improve energy security by reducing the dependency on power generation from imported sources (27% in 2030 compared to 42% in Draft PDP8).

Any additional effort in emission reduction requires additional resources, as our Prime Minister stated in his speech, implementing the Paris agreement would require significant global efforts. This very ambitious goal requires substantial technical and financial support from developed countries as well as the international development partners with the premise of “just climate actions from all countries”.

Net-zero carbon in 2050 ambition covers the whole economy which required the joined efforts of all related sectors including industry, transport, residential, services, and agriculture.

Represent for think-tanks, VIETSE strongly emphasizes that Science-based evidence is the critical element to accelerate a just, sustainable and reliable energy transition.

Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition.