Vietnam to spend $45 billion to boost electricity capacity

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Vietnam estimates it will spend VND929.7 trillion (US$45 billion) to boost its electricity generation capacity by 2020 to meet domestic demand, an official said.

The country aims to raise the electricity generation capacity of its power plants to 75,000 megawatts, Pham Manh Thang, head of energy division at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, told reporters at a briefing in Hanoi Wednesday, citing the nation's 10-year electricity development plan. He didn't specify the current capacity.

The country faced an electricity shortage of about 3 percent a year from 2006 to 2010, with a drop in hydropower output during the dry season widening shortfalls to as much as 10 percent in some provinces, Trinh Ngoc Khanh, head of Electricity of Vietnam's planning department, said in June. The electricity deficit is about 10 percent of capacity, the European Chamber of Commerce's Energy and Infrastructure Committee said in June.

Vietnam plans to import and produce between 194 billion and 210 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2015, according to a document outlining the electricity plan released Wednesday. Production and imports will rise to between 330 billion and 362 billion kilowatt-hours in 2020, according to the document. About 3 percent of electricity will be shipped from overseas, and the nation may buy about 2,200 megawatts from Laos, Cambodia and China, it said.

"˜Not possible'

"It's not possible to build the sort of numbers they're talking about," Tony Segadelli, Bangkok-based managing director of consulting firm OWL Energy Ltd. said by phone Wednesday. "China would be the only one that would be building above that rate and they have 1.5 billion people and an infrastructure system that works."

The government will implement a market-pricing system, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong said at the briefing Wednesday. The country will boost electricity retail prices to as much as 9 cents per kilowatt hour in 2020, he said.

The current average retail price is 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The Vietnamese government plans to speed up its fundraising through bond sales domestically and internationally for the electricity investment projects, Thang said. Vietnam will also privatize electricity companies to attract investors, he added.

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