Vietnam set to face serious power shortage in 2013

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Vietnam will face critical power shortages in 2013 and 2014 as demand for electricity in the country is growing at a fast pace, a government official said Saturday.

Drastic measures need to be taken soon to speed up the construction of new power plants, Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, head of the government office, said in a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee.

"Power prices should also be reviewed to attract investment for power plant projects from all sectors," he said.

The government said power demand will increase by 15 percent next year. If local production and power purchases from China and Laos go ahead as planned, the demand can be met. However, if one new power project is delayed or weather conditions are not favorable, there will be shortages.

According to a report by the NA Economic Committee, most power projects scheduled for completion in 2010-2011 have faced delays. The committee said out of 51 projects it had inspected, only five were on schedule.

Experts have said the lack of rain this year has put huge pressure on power production in Vietnam. However, the main reason for Vietnam's power woes is delays in the construction of new power projects.

The Vietnam Energy Association also said current power prices of around 5 US cents per kilowatt-hour don't encourage investment into the sector, as manufacturers only earn profits at prices of about 7-8 cents per kWh.

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