United States: Renewable Energy Vietnam – Duane Morris – We Get Deals Done:

1. Describe the role of yourself/company/department within renewable energy in Vietnam. 

Duane Morris, as both advisor and advocate, guides clients through the complex legal, financial and political issues that pervade the energy industry. For both producers and policy-makers, as well as industry participants and consumers, Duane Morris attorneys help manage the dynamic challenges of the energy market. Our attorneys counsel our clients on regulations, transactions, litigation, project development, facility construction, financing, government relations and policy matters concerning energy. Our attorneys draw upon legal and industry experience with fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable sources to find creative solutions to meet our clients' needs.We have been involved in several renewable energy deals in Vietnam until successful close of the respective deal. We can get bankable deals done.

2. Describe those individuals/companies/government departments with whom you operate mostly with?

Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam, Institute of Energy, General Department of Energy, EVN, Ministry of Planning and Investment.

3. Explain the purpose of each of these connections whether they be formal, contracted relationships or informal relationships.

They are formal relationships, where I either acted as the Chairman of the Legal Sector Committee of EuroCham, or work on behalf of our clients to connect with the authorities to get better understanding of the regulations in the sector and propose necessary changes.

4. Describe any customs or habits that are features of doing business in the renewable energy industry? Likewise describe any customs or habits that are features of doing business in Vietnam. Explain how these customs or habits are used? 

Build and maintain relationship with Government officials at all levels (central, provincial) is a must. Meetings can be formal or sometimes invite them out for lunch/ dinner with small gifts (but not too expensive). Do not go into too much details of your project or investment plan in the initial meeting. Save it for the next meetings. The first one should only be for "getting to know each other" purpose.

Vietnam has a consensus-driven system, meaning everyone has to say something. Any person has veto right. Thus, to make sure that a decision in favor of your investment is made, you have to gain support of every person who has the decision-making right. In addition, decision making process in Vietnam has to go through many levels and thus takes quite long. Be patient then.

You should always set up a meeting some weeks in advance. Although some officials are able to communicate in English, it is advised to have a translator/ interpreter.

5. In your opinion, who are the 'big players' within the renewable energy industry within Vietnam?

This applies to private companies, national companies, government departments etc.

EVN as the sole off-taker and its generation companies are the main players in the sector. Besides, the General Department of Energy, the Electricity Regulatory of Vietnam (both under the Ministry of Industry and Trade) play an important role in setting regulatory framework.

6. Explain any rules or laws that dictate how you must operate within the renewable energy industry and within Vietnam. 

Wind: Decision No. 37/2011/QD-TTg, Circular No. 32/2012/TT-BCT

Biomass: Decision 24/2014/QD-TTg, Circular 44/2015/TT-BCT

Solid-waste power: Decision 31/2014/QD-TTg, Circular 32/2015/TT-BCT

Solar: Decision 11/2017/QD-TTg, Circular guiding the Decision and promulgating the PPA is being drafted

There are a number of laws and documents regulating an investment in Vietnam. I just name some major laws: Investment Law, Enterprise Law, Labor Law, Commercial Law, Civil Code, etc.

7. In your opinion, to what extent does a hierarchy exist within the renewable energy industry in Vietnam? 

The development of renewable energy industry does not catch up with economic development speed. Although the Government has set out the increasing role of this sector in the energy development plan, I am afraid that the Government may fail to meet its target due to lack of support policies and bankable PPAs.

8. Describe the main changes that have occurred to the renewable energy industry in Vietnam in the last 10 years. 

The renewable industry in Vietnam is very young. Indeed, it only started developing since the adoption of the Wind Decision in 2011. Following that Decision, the Prime Minister continued completing the legal framework for the sector by introducing Biomass Decision and Solid-Waste Decision in 2014, and the latest Decision being the Solar Decision issued in April 2017. The adoption of these policies was the joint effort of many relevant ministries, including the General Director of Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which was established at the end of 2011 to improve state management in the sector.

In 2009,  the first factory producing solar panels with total investment of USD10 million came into operation in Vietnam. Later in 2010, GE Energy invested USD61 million to establish the first factory producing wind turbines in Hai Duong. This was considered as a boost for the renewable energy market. However, by 2015, renewable energy only accounted for 5% in the total energy output, in which there is no wind and solar power but only small hydro power.

FYI, the first wind power plant came into operation in 2012 in Binh Thuan with a capacity of 30 MW. Recently, the first solar plant in Dong Thap also commenced ts operation.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.

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