When wind turbines stop spinning
Lying among the lush-green tea and coffee hills in Bau Can Commune in Chu Prong District of Gia Lai Province are giant wind turbines spiking straight into the air. The wind turbines are tens of meters high, the rotor blades are not spinning, and there is no engine noise. Ms. Tran Thi Thu Hien, Chairwoman of the People's Committee of Bau Can Commune, said that the rotor blades do not rotate, which means wind turbines are not in operation. Both projects in the commune have been completed, but if they do not operate, it will cause waste in many aspects.
Those two wind power projects are the Mountain Development Wind Power Plant and the Central Highlands Processing Wind Power Plant, with a total capacity of 100MW, constructed in 2020 and completed after October 31, 2021. These two projects have 30 wind turbines, of these, 28 are located in Bau Can Commune, and the other two are in Thang Hung Commune, and all of them have stopped spinning. According to the leader of the People's Committee of Bau Can Commune, the construction of wind power plants also caused impacts on the farming land of local people. When the commune asked for compensation, the wind power investor lamented that it could not sell electricity, so it was facing a financial crunch.
The operational office of these two wind power projects is in the middle of a large field. Its gate is built solidly, and access is strictly controlled. According to an employee at the operational office, these projects were completed after the prescribed deadline, so they have not been connected to the national power system to sell electricity.
Along both sides of National Highway 1A in Ninh Thuan Province are wind turbines of Hanbaram Wind Power Plant, but not all rotor blades are spinning. Mr. Dang Manh Cuong, Director of Hanbaram Wind Power Joint Stock Company, said wind turbines were installed in Loi Hai and Bac Phong communes in Thuan Bac District and Xuan Hai and Tan Hai communes in Ninh Hai District. The project's capacity is 117MW, including 27 4MW and two 4.5MW wind turbines. The total investment capital of the project is nearly VND5 trillion, of which, the investor's capital accounts for 30 percent, equivalent to VND1.5 trillion, and the rest is bank loans.
Mr. Do Nguyen Hai Dang, Chief Inspector of Thuan Bac District in Ninh Thuan Province, said the project started in October 2020. According to the plan, by October 31, 2021, 29 out of 29 wind turbine pillars would be installed and connected; the transmission lines and substations connected to the national grid system would be completed. However, only six out of 29 wind turbine pillars were finished in time to be eligible to sell power. The remaining wind turbines were behind schedule and are waiting for settlement.
Waiting for the mechanism to be resolved
Mr. Pham Van Binh, Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Gia Lai Province, said that among 16 wind power projects that have been under construction, four wind power projects that have been partially operated commercially with a capacity of 117MW, equivalent to 31 wind turbines, and a part with a capacity of 287MW has not been operated commercially, equivalent to 72 wind turbines; five wind power projects that have not yet been fully operated commercially have a total capacity of more than 341MW, equivalent to 88 wind turbines. In total, although the construction of 629MW out of 1,192MW of wind power, equivalent to 160 out of 297 wind turbines, with a total investment of about VND25.5 trillion, has been completed, wind power projects have not been recognized for commercial operation and approved to connect to the national power system. These projects could not sell electricity because by the end of October 31, 2021, the selling price of wind power projects in Decision No.39/2018/QD-TTg dated August 19, 2018, of the Prime Minister, expired, and there has been no electricity price for wind power projects which are issued after this date yet.
According to Mr. Pham Van Binh, wind power projects are unable to complete and put into commercial operation on schedule because the Covid-19 pandemic caused the construction of these projects to be interrupted. Wind power projects ineligible to operate commercially have reduced economic efficiency and wasted social investment. Meanwhile, investors have no revenue to pay bank interest, leading to financial difficulties. Faced with that situation, at a meeting with the National Assembly's monitoring delegation in August, Gia Lai Province proposed that the Government soon issue a transitional electricity selling price after October 31, 2021, for wind power projects. While the selling price of electricity has not been issued, wind power projects should still be allowed to check and take over, energize, operate commercially, and record meter readings. Later, when there is an electricity selling price, investors will be paid for their generated power output.
As for the Department of Industry and Trade, on October 10, following the direction of the provincial NA delegation and the provincial People's Committee on putting forward opinions at the 4th session of the 15th National Assembly, the department made a written petition on the above contents for the province to report to the NA and central ministries to soon remove difficulties for enterprises investing in wind power," said Mr. Pham Van Binh.
The leader of the People's Committee of Ninh Thuan Province also blamed the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 for the delayed completion of wind power projects in the province. Specifically, wind turbines are mainly imported from abroad, and the installation of wind turbines depends on foreign experts and engineers. However, due to Covid-19, entry restrictions and medical isolation affected the progress, test, and acceptance. In addition, imported super-long and super-heavy wind power equipment from abroad to Vietnam's seaports must be transported through many places. However, because many localities implemented social distancing, the transport time took longer than planned. Therefore, the delay in the completion of wind power projects must be considered a force majeure situation according to the 2015 Civil Code, so the deadline for electricity purchase should be extended to April 2022.
62 projects unable to sell electricity yet
Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien signed Document No.126/BC-BCT on July 21, 2022, to report to the Prime Minister, stating that many wind power projects have been built not in time to enjoy the FIT price. Of these, 62 wind power projects with a total capacity of 3,479MW have signed contracts to sell electricity to Vietnam Electricity (EVN), but there has been no power selling price yet. Some other projects are also unfinished.
Proposing solutions, the Minister of Industry and Trade said that to avoid wasting social investment, it is necessary to determine a mechanism for electricity selling prices for these projects. Investors of transitional projects conduct electricity price negotiations and power purchase and sale contracts with EVN within the electricity generation price bracket and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Recently, on October 3, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued Circular No.15/TT-BCT stipulating methods for building a price bracket for electricity generation of transitional solar and wind power plants. The circular requests that investors who have signed a power purchase and sale contract but have not yet been able to sell electricity submit a dossier to EVN for settling.