The Standing Committee of the Government on Electricity Development Planning, chaired by Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, recently issued Notice 277/TB-VPCP (Notice 277) providing an update as to the issues impacting the drafting and finalisation of Power Development Plan 8 (PDP8).

PDP8, Vietnam's primary energy planning instrument for the period 2021-2030 with a vision to 2045, remains in draft form with final approval by the Office of the Government and the Prime Minister still pending. PDP8 was originally to be issued in early 2021 but has undergone several rounds of revision based on extensive public and private stakeholder consultation, with numerous draft versions issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) over the past 18 months.

It is worth noting that power development plans are a form of Vietnamese planning document providing general power capacity targets across asset classes rather than a concrete legal instrument providing detailed regulations for the development and ownership of power assets.

Notice 277 provides the following remarks with regards to key issues impacting the finalisation of PDP8:

  • PDP8 requires careful consideration to address a range of evolving issues including national energy security interests, the rapid development of new technologies, international geopolitical tensions, supply chain disruptions, and domestic socio-economic needs.
  • Coal power projects are to be reduced in the period to 2030, with the MOIT instructed to work with investors in coal projects to discuss project feasibility in light of financing difficulties in the coal sector.
  • The feasibility of gas-fired power projects is to be further reviewed, including a reference to reducing the capacity of imported LNG power sources (known as LNG-to-power projects) in the period to 2030.
  • Wind power is to be increased to an appropriate and feasible scale. Domestic wind and solar resources are to be maximised and should be developed at competitive price points.
  • Further consideration is to be given to electricity imports from neighbouring countries including Laos, as well as to the introduction of hydrogen and increased use of biomass assets.
  • The introduction of appropriate legislative and regulatory mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of PDP8 policy targets is required.

Notice 277 does not provide a definitive conclusion as to when PDP8 will be finalised. Power development plans serve as a crucial policy document, providing comfort to power market participants with regards to Vietnam's future energy policy orientation and a lens through which to assess forthcoming market opportunities. The issuance of PDP8 has become an increasingly vexed issue in the Vietnamese market, with participants keenly awaiting greater policy and regulatory guidance, particularly in the context of the recent expiration of feed-in tariff regimes for solar (December 2020) and wind (October 2021) with no new market mechanism as yet implemented for projects currently in development.

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