Located in the monsoon subtropical area with long coastline, Vietnam has fundamental advantages to develop wind energy. When comparing the average wind speed in the East Sea of Vietnam and the surrounding sea areas, the result showed that wind in the East Sea of Vietnam is fairly strong and seasonally change.
The World Bank (WB) conducted a detailed survey about wind power in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. According to this study, among the four surveyed countries, Vietnam has the largest potential for wind power and better than the neighboring countries like Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Vietnam has 8.6% of the territory is rated as “good” and “very good” for the construction of large wind stations, while in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, the numbers are 0.2%, 2.9% and 0.2% respectively. The total wind power potential of Vietnam is estimated to reach 513,360 MW, more than 200 times the capacity of Son La Hydropower Plant, and more than 10 times the total forecasting capacity of the power sector in 2020.
Vietnam has up to 41% rural areas that can develop small wind powers. Comparing this figure with the neighboring countries, the rural areas that can develop wind power in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are 6%, 13% and 9% respectively. It is indeed a privilege for Vietnam.
In Vietnam, the areas that can develop wind power do not spread across the entire territory. With the influence of monsoon, the wind regime is also different in each area. If the northern of Hai Van Pass, the strong wind season coincides with the northeast wind season, in which the most potential areas are Quang Ninh, Quang Binh and Quang Tri. In the southern part of Hai Van Pass, the strong wind season coincides with the southwest wind season, in which the most potential areas are the Tay Nguyen area, the coastal provinces of the Mekong Delta and especially the coastal areas of Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan.
According to research conducted by the World Bank, in the territory of Vietnam, the two most potential areas for wind energy development is Son Hai (Ninh Thuan) and sand hills at the height of 60 – 100 meters from the west of Ham Tien to Mui Ne (Binh Thuan). The advantages of these areas are high average velocity wind, less storm and stable wind trend. They are the favorable conditions for wind energy development. During the monsoon months, the proportion of south and southeast winds are up to 98% with an average speed of 6 – 7m/s. It means that we are able to build the wind stations with capacity of 3 to 3.5 MW.
In fact, people in Ninh Thuan have also created a number of homemade small wind generators for the purpose of lighting. Both these areas are sparsely populated with hot and dry weather. Moreover, this is the ethnic areas with special difficulties of Vietnam.
Although there are many advantages as mentioned above, but when mentioning wind energy, we need to note a number of unique features to be able to develop it in the most effective way.
The biggest disadvantage of wind energy is the dependence on weather condition and wind regime. Therefore, at the design stage, the wind regime, terrain and type of wind without turbulence flows which badly affect the transmitter should seriously be studied. Moreover, although wind power is becoming more popular but it cannot be used as the main energy. However, the possibility of the combination between wind power and storage hydropower will open up opportunities for Vietnam to develop energy in areas such as Tay Nguyen, which has advantages in both of these kind.
Another noted point is that the wind power stations will cause noise pollution during operation as well as disrupt the natural landscape and could affect the signal of the radio waves. Therefore, when constructing wind power stations, it is needed to calculate reasonable distance to residential areas and tourist resorts in order not to cause negative impacts.
In order to meet the goal of ambitious growth, in the medium term, Vietnam should continue to exploit the traditional energy sources. In the long term, Vietnam needs to develop strategy and roadmap for the development of new energy sources. In this strategy, the economic costs (including internal and external expenses on the environment and society) need to be analyzed carefully, taking into account new developments in technology, as well as reserves and price movements of alternative energy sources. In these new energy sources, wind power has emerged as a worthy choice and therefore need to be fully assessed.
Vietnam has many advantages for the development of wind energy. If Vietnam does not invest in research and development of wind power will be a huge waste because the risk of power shortage is always permanent, affecting economic growth and national competitiveness. Meanwhile, the current national strategy for power seems only interested in hydropower and nuclear power – the energy sources with huge initial investment and many hidden risks on both environment and society.
In the world, the development of wind power is a major trend, showing the highest growth rate compared with other energy sources. Unlike nuclear power which needs a complicated technical process and strict supervision, the construction and installation of wind power does not require such rigorous processes. With the experiences of successful development of wind power in India, China, Philippines and the geographical advantages of Vietnam, Vietnam can completely develop wind power and contributing to the overall development of the economy.