Are floating solar power farms Vietnam’s energy solution for the future?

Around the world, governments and their private sector partners look for new and innovative ways to move into renewable energies – such as solar and wind – that will provide long-term economic and environmental benefits to their countries. 

Vietnam is also embracing renewable energy projects and a number of solar and wind energy projects are in development. These projects, and more in the pipeline could see Vietnam generating 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

A floating solar project at Yakamura Dam in Japan, developed by Kyocera

To date, solar energy projects have been limited to land projects, but energy and government officials are now advocating that Vietnam develop small-scale and large-scale solar energy projects that would be built on floating platforms in Vietnam’s lake and river networks.Economists say solar energy solutions built on floating platforms on lakes and reservoirs are a good choice for Vietnam and that compared to conventional power solutions, floating solar power is easier to install and provides a capacity 10% higher without requiring rotary PV panels. However, high buoy transport costs, bird droppings and offshore equipment deformation are major problems in need of resolution.

A “ small village” floating solar power plant on a nearby river

Several domestic and international companies have shown interest in floating solar power projects. 

• EVN is considering the construction of floating solar power projects on lakes and reservoirs in Binh Thuan, Dong Nai and Gia Lai provinces

• A Norwegian business delegation recently carried out surveys in Vietnam, seeking partners to develop floating solar energy in the country. Norwegian experts said that Vietnam has high potential with rivers, reservoirs and lakes suitable for the floating solar power solutions; and that this new technology will enable Vietnam to install large-scale solar power facilities without affecting farmland and ecosystems

• South Korea’s Solkiss Company has surveyed the Thac Ba Lake in Yen Bai Province to prepare for building a floating solar power plant on the lake.

China is home to the worlds largest floating solar power plant

Floating solar energy projects are not just theoretical. Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) subsidiary, Da Mi, is planning a 47.5MW floating solar power plant at one of its water reservoirs in the south of the country and is seeking funding for the project from the Asian Development Bank. If funding is secured, the Vietnam’s first floating solar energy project could be online by 2020, heralding a new step in the country’s increased use of renewable energy.