South-east asia is among the many elements of the world most susceptible to local weather change. Yet this smoke-belching area appears tired of forsaking fossil fuels. Vietnam is a shiny spot on an in any other case soot-black map.
In the 4 years to 2021, the share of electrical energy generated by photo voltaic in Vietnam elevated from virtually nothing to just about 11%. Not solely was this a quicker price of improve than virtually wherever else on the earth. It is an even bigger share than bigger economies reminiscent of France or Japan have managed. By final 12 months, Vietnam had turn into the world’s tenth-biggest producer of solar energy. Underscoring his nation’s dedication to the vitality transition, Pham Minh Chinh, Vietnam’s prime minister, vowed in November to cease constructing new coal-powered crops and to cut back his nation’s emissions to web zero by 2050.
Other South-East Asian nations hoping to up their sport can be taught a number of classes from Vietnam. It has quadrupled its wind and photo voltaic capability since 2019. This “extraordinary achievement” is primarily the results of political will and market incentives, in line with a examine carried out by Paul Burke and Thang Do of the Australian National University, and others. In 2017 the federal government started paying solar-power suppliers a fixed-rate “feed-in tariff” of as a lot as 9.35 us cents for each kilowatt-hour they delivered to the grid, which was beneficiant on condition that prices usually vary between 5 and seven cents per kilowatt-hour. The result’s that 100,000 rooftop photo voltaic panels had been put in in 2019 and 2020, rising the nation’s photo voltaic capability by a whopping 16 gigawatts. Other South-East Asian nations have tried feed-in tariffs, however they’ve been insufficiently attractive.
Reforms making it simpler for international buyers to do enterprise in Vietnam have helped, too. So has ending the monopoly of Vietnam Electricity (evn), the state vitality agency, on home technology. By distinction, international buyers in different South-East Asian nations usually discover themselves draped in crimson tape, and should compete towards home fossil-fuel corporations, which get pleasure from chunky subsidies.
But if Vietnam hopes to realize net-zero emissions by 2050, it must work even more durable. Demand for vitality within the nation has grown by about 10% a 12 months over the previous decade, in line with Dezan Shira, a consulting agency. More and extra of it’s being met with coal. The share of electrical energy generated by the soiled stuff elevated from 33% to 51% within the 5 years to 2021, says Ember, an vitality think-tank in London (see chart). The authorities should additionally be certain that the economic system continues to growth—earlier than the pandemic it was rising by 5-7% per 12 months—even because the nation weans itself off coal.
Government planners “need to ramp up wind and solar very quickly, year in, year out”, says Mr Burke. It isn’t but clear how they are going to do that. The grasp plan outlining how the nation will generate vitality, revealed as soon as a decade, is being revised, and could also be out as early as this month. Most of the electrical energy derived from renewables presently comes from hydroelectric dams.
Planners additionally want to think about the grid, which have to be expanded and upgraded in order that it covers the whole nation and is in a position to deal with the intermittent nature of energy equipped by renewables. It doesn’t even have the power to soak up all of the renewable vitality Vietnam is presently producing. “Improving the grid will be extremely expensive, almost certainly requiring the government to seek private investment,” says an analyst primarily based in Hanoi. But some at evn, in addition to policymakers anxious about nationwide safety, are reluctant to cede huge transmission property to the personal sector. “Mindsets at evn can shift,” says the analyst, “but it will happen slowly.” To attain its targets, Vietnam might want to hurry them alongside. ■
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