468 medium- to small-scale hydroelectric plants situated in hilly areas were struck off the national power development programme in the 2011-2020 period due to economic constraints as well as the incompetence and irresponsibility of investors and project managers.
After scrutiny, the ministry and provincial people’s committees put a stop to a total of 468 potential hydropower projects, the capacity of which amounts to 2,000 megawatts, said Do Duc Quan, deputy director of the General Directorate of Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
Quan also asserted the fact that some investors dodged operating invested projects or sold them without running them as stated in the investment licences.
The majority of halted projects have low capacity which has unveiled certain shortcomings such as economic insufficiency, ill-effects on transportation projects in the localities, as well as the local ecosystem.
Likewise, these 468 projects are devoid of qualified human resources as well as competent supervision, which inevitably sets back the implementation process.
Other causes behind the licence revocation were investors’ violations of regulations during implementation and under-qualified management, as well as unfitting project architecture.
In addition, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh noted that some local authorities paid little to no attention to reservoir discharges, local flood and storm prevention schemes, and the maintenance of dams in these prevention schemes.
To boot, a large proportion of these hydropower plants sit in rocky and steep construction sites which are constantly exposed to extreme weather conditions and climate change. Thereby, the plants’ construction hangs by a thread.
Given the revocation of the projects’ licences, it has been debatable whether the government should reinforce management at hydropower projects as numerous investors were selected who did not adhere to procedures in surveying, designing, and operating.
On the contrary, the hydropower plants are a great source of jobs, the prime contributors to the provincial budget, as well as key actors in boosting power security and socioeconomic safety.
With the intention of reviving the axed projects, Tran Dinh Thien, director of Vietnam Institute of Economics, advised that the pre-requisite of resurrecting the 468 projects is to revise policies to assure the long-term benefits and the protection of natural resources and the safety of locals. By this way, Thien also remarked that the country’s demand for biomass energy and coal would drastically decline, which could contribute to environmental sustainability.
However, Hoang Quoc Vuong, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, sticks to the revokal, given the current economic context.