UK to help Vietnam lead Asia in energy revolution

(VOVWORLD) - Vietnam aims for 10.7 percent of its total electricity output by 2030 being generated from renewables. The country rose five places to 34th in a global ranking of attractiveness in terms of renewable energy investment last year, according to British multinational professional services company Ernst & Young. But it still needs much more from the countries with more experience in the field, like the UK, to reach its sustainable development goals without needing to make a trade-off between economic growth and sustainable energy usage. We had an interview with Ken O’Flaherty, the UK government's COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia, about cooperation between Vietnam and the UK in energy transition and the potential for renewable energy development.
UK to help Vietnam lead Asia in energy revolution - ảnh 1

Ken O’Flaherty and Pham Van Tan, Deputy Director General for Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, discuss ways to boost use of renewables, March 2, 2021. (Photo credit: British Embassy Hanoi)

Vietnam and the UK jointly hosted a series of events on energy transition including the UK-Vietnam Renewable Energy Dialogue and a bilateral Energy transition dialogue under COP26 summit scheduled to take place in Glasgow this November. Why is energy transition important for a developing country like Vietnam?

Vietnam’s dynamic and growing economy will generate a strong demand for energy in coming years. It is important that this energy is clean and economical.

Renewable energy is now cheaper than coal and the costs of solar and wind energy are forecast to fall further in coming years. The cost of solar and wind technology has declined respectively by 85% and 49%, while energy storage – or batteries- has also fallen dramatically by 85% since 2010. This means that renewable energy can provide dependable, cheap energy for Vietnam’s economy. So countries that choose to build new coal plants today face the certainty of creating stranded assets for the future. And of course coal also generates air pollution and health costs which are significant in many countries across South East Asia, including here in Vietnam.

Investing in renewable energy, on the other hand, will generate faster growth and more jobs for the Vietnamese economy.

How is the UK supporting Vietnam’s energy transition and particularly the development of renewable energy in Vietnam?

Vietnam is already a regional leader on solar energy and has immense potential for cheap, clean wind power. Vietnam’s solar sector has exploded, hitting its solar target six years ahead of schedule while its offshore wind power potential is identified at 160GW, compared to the UK’s 30GW. We want to help Vietnam seize this opportunity to put itself at the forefront of the energy revolution across Asia.

We were pleased to organize a specific country dialogue on 5 March for Vietnam. This brought together international and domestic partners interested in providing support for Vietnam’s energy transition. I was pleased that Vice-Minister Dang Hoang An of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade co-chaired this session. We heard about the Vietnamese government’s Draft Power Development Planning (PDP8) power reform plan and partners expressed the hope that Vietnam could accelerate further its moves towards renewable energy – and phase out coal power.

Throughout the years, the UK has collaborated with Vietnam through various programmes to support clean energy development, including the £15m ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme, providing capacity building and technical assistance interventions on Green Finance and Energy Efficiency, and the 2050 Calculator, an easy-to-use energy modelling tool helping countries visualize low-carbon pathways for the future. And most recently, the UK has created the Energy Transition Council under COP26 to bring together countries which need support for the energy transition with international donors and investors.

UK to help Vietnam lead Asia in energy revolution - ảnh 2The Energy Transition Dialogue co-hosted by the British Embassy and the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, March 5, 2021.  (Photo credit: British Embassy Hanoi)

What are your views on the draft PDP8 that’s been issued for public consultation?

The draft PDP8 is an important document which we are still analyzing carefully. We welcome the prospect of increased investment in renewable energy.

We hope that Vietnam will be in position to announce a definitive end to all new coal power plants ahead of COP26 and we are keen to mobilize support for this. I am convinced that by scaling up its deployment of solar and wind energy in coming years, Vietnam has the potential to improve the quality of life for its citizens, drive growth for the coming decade, and become a regional renewable energy super-power.

Thank you, Mr. Ken O’Flaherty, for granting VOV this interview.