Sustainability assessment of Vietnam’s electricity planning: Using Section 1 of the 2009 Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol
by Dao Trong Tu, Le Thi Thuy Quynh, Pham Quang Tu and Bach Tan Sinh (2011)
The Draft Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) was first introduced in Vietnam at the National Consultant Workshop organized by Vietnam Water Partnership (VNWP) in November 2009. Although the structure of HSAP is relatively complex and new to Vietnam, the participants (from Government agencies, experts, investors, and Vietnamese and international civil society organizations) had the impression that the HSAP has the potential to be a useful tool for participatory assessment of the sustainability of a hydropower project and broader planning.
With the assistance of the M-POWER (Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience), a national group of experts in multiple disciplines from government agencies, national organisations and NGOs was mobilized to conduct a rapid sustainability assessment of the energy and hydropower development policy and plan in Vietnam. Section I of the draft HSAP 2009 was used as an assessment tool. The assessment focused on the quality of the process of developing and implementing the strategic development of the electricity sector in general and hydropower development of Vietnam in particular.
Even though the rapid assessment framework of HSAP was quite new to the Assessment Team and the assessment subjects are broad, the Team and participants in this trial learned positive and negative lessons that can serve as a basis for future assessment exercises to enable deeper and more comprehensive assessment. The assessment report includes four major parts: 1) Introduction and background, 2) Water and hydropower development in Vietnam; 3) Rapid assessment - process and discussion of results; and 4) Lessons learned from the assessment and recommendations for draft HSAP 2009.
The situation of power development and hydropower in Vietnam in the last two decades
Over the last two decades, Vietnam has achieved rapid economic development. The average growth rate of GDP has continually risen over the past 10 years from 6% in the 1990s to 7.4% in the 2000s. The population also rapidly increased from 66 million people to 87 million people in 2009 (Office of Statistics, Annual Statistics of Vietnam, 2009). With increased economic development and population growth, the need for power is also rapidly increasing. Annual power demand growth rate is projected to range from 10% to 12%. Hydropower has been identified as an important potential contributor to the national grid and its development has been encouraged by the Government of Vietnam (Law on Water Resources, 1998, Article 29).
The 2004 Electricity Law encourages all economic sectors to invest in power sources while the State monopolizes the transmission and regulation of the national electricity network, construction and operation of large hydropower plants (Law on Electric Power, 2004, Art. 4). The development of power nationally is directed by the National Master Plan for Power Development (PDP), updated every five years.
Water resources, energy and hydropower development in Vietnam
Vietnam’s climate ranges from sub-humid in the extreme north to sub-tropical in the remaining areas. The average rainfall is 1,600 mm and changes by region from 700 mm to 4,000 mm. Vietnam has 2,360 river basins having lengths of more than 10km each. Of these, 13 have catchment areas over 10,000 km2. All of them are either transprovincial and/or transnational. Total surface water volume of Vietnam is 830-840 billion m3 per annum, however only 310-315 billion m3 or 37% is formed internally in Vietnam. The balance of 520-525 billion m3 (63% of total water volume) comes into Vietnam from other countries (MONRE, 2006). Water resources in river basins (both surface and groundwater) play an important role in socio-economic development and environment protection (MONRE, 2006)
With the high demand for electricity to enable socio-economic development, the Government of Vietnam launched a Master Power Development Plan No. VI -2005 (PDP VI) to develop energy potential to meet the growing demand. Hydropower is seen as one of the main renewable sources to be exploited to bring high benefits to the country. PDP VI proposes initiating planning for 26 big hydropower plants in the period 2006-2015, with construction to be carried out over a 20 year period (IE, 2007). Hydropower development faces a lot of challenges including how to redress the domination by the energy sector and monopoly state power producers and distributors to ensure involvement of all stakeholders as early as possible. In many cases, the construction of hydropower facilities has not carefully considered the impacts on the environment, ecosystems and human livelihoods.
Rapid Sustainable Assessment for Hydropower Development strategies and planning in Vietnam, using Section I of HSAP 2009
Sustainable Assessment of Vietnam’s Electricity Planning uses Section I of HSAP 2009 to focus on assessing the quality of the process and implementation of PDP VI and other related plans in Vietnam. The key findings from the assessment of all relevant aspects are summarized as follows: