Ban Ve Hydro, Vietnam

The 320MW Ban Ve hydroelectric power plant was commissioned in May 2010. The hydro power plant is located in the central Nghe An province’s Tuong Duong District of Vietnam. It is the first hydroelectric project to have been built wholly by Vietnam.

Construction began in September 2004. The plant produces more than 1.76 billion kWh a year, with the first two turbines of 100MW and 90MW connected to the grid. Located on the Ca River, the facility was built with an investment of more than VND 6.74tn (approximately $390m), including construction expenses and interest on loans. Electricity of Vietnam, the plant’s main investor, hopes to have an annual turnover of VND 900-1,000bn (US $57-64m). Electricity is transmitted to the national grid across a 200km transmission line that runs from the plant to a transformer station in Vinh City.

Due to the severe floods in September 2011, the mountain situated just 5m away from the plant began to break and pour mud into the plant’s turbine area. Fearing that the turbines will be completely buried into the mud, officials began taking measures to prevent further damage from the mountain.

Prior to this incident, a serious rockslide occurred at the Ban Ve construction site in December 2007, which buried 18 workers and engineers under 500,000t of stone.

Renewables dominate Vietnamese electricity generation

Vietnam’s per capita electricity consumption has been among the lowest in Asia, but is on the rise. There have been higher living standards and rapid growth in the commercial sector, with many people moving to major cities. That is pushing up electrical demand, which is predicted to grow by 15% a year until at least 2010, and Vietnam has limited generating capacity.

According to REEEP (Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership), the main sources for electricity generation in Vietnam are renewables (46.4%), coal (17.7%), oil (6.5%) and gas (29.4%). Since 1990, Vietnam has been a net energy exporter, mainly of crude oil and coal. Its lack of refining capacity means that the country fills most of its domestic consumption from imports.
Vietnam buys power from China and Laos. The Vietnamese Government has now set a target to produce 5% of the total energy production through renewable sources by 2025.

Building a national grid in Vietnam

Vietnam’s distribution infrastructure has recently been improved, and EVN (Electricitรฉ of Vietnam, the state power company) by 2020 aims to patch together several regional grids to produce a national electricity grid. The country adopted an ambitious plan for 32 power stations (16 of which are hydro power stations) generating over 7,500MW, including its first nuclear power plant. Ban Ve was one of five hydro projects that started in 2004. In the first half of 2008, ten hydro projects totaling nearly 400MW came on line in the highlands and central provinces.

Even with Vietnamโ€™s improvement of its rural electrification grid, over three million rural households will still not have access to electricity before 2010. Many could be reached by distributed and renewable energy sources, though.

“Ban Ve is expected to benefit other industries in the region by around US $5m per year.”

Reservoir to supply farms, prevent flooding

As well as adding to the national power grid network, Ban Ve is benefitting other industries in the region by around US $5m per year. The plant’s 1.8 million cubic metre reservoir supplies water for agriculture and aqua-culture in the districts of Tuong Duong, Con Cuong, Anh Son, Nam Dan and Do Luong. It will also prevent flooding and provide water during the dry season. As part of a project to connect regional power grids, the power station is also linked to Nam Mo hydro-electric power plant in neighbouring Laos across an 110kV transmission line.

Songda Corporation, which specialises in infrastructure projects (particularly hydro) was the main contractor for Ban Ve, with Cavico Vietnam as subcontractor. Cavico Vietnam constructed the tunnels and one third of the plant base, and was also in charge of the stone mining. The plant’s 135m dam is the tallest in the country..