Energy Transition: Crucial Pillar in Viet Nam-Australia Ties

9:53:17 AM | 3/29/2024

Climate change adaptation and energy transition is one the pillars of Viet Nam-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, reiterated Australian Ambassador to Viet Nam Andrew Goledzinowski.

Australian Ambassador to Viet Nam Andrew Goledzinowski - Photo: VGP

The Australian diplomat and Mr. Yi-Hua Lu, head of Corio Generation's Asia-Pacific region (APAC), a subsidiary of Macquarie, joined a talk at the headquarters of the VGP about cooperation potential between the two nations after upgrading relations; and cooperation opportunities in offshore wind power to promote the energy transition process in Viet Nam.

Australia has become the 7th comprehensive strategic partner of Viet Nam. As an insider, could you share with us the implications of this move for both nations, for Australia-ASEAN relations and for the world as well?

This is the result of more than 50 years of partnership and work. It's been a collective effort and it is an achievement. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh's official visit to Australia just a few weeks ago was one of the best bilateral visits that I have ever seen.

There was genuine warmth. There was constructive discussions on a wide range of topics, and the actual partnership document that was concluded by the two Prime Ministers is genuinely comprehensive. It covers such a wide range of cooperation that will be taken forward in the future.

In fact, we are now beginning to work on the plan of action to implement that agreement because implementation is just as important as the high-level understandings that have been reached. So we're very excited about the future of relations between the two countries.

Could you tell us about the growing partnership on climate and energy transition between Australia and Viet Nam?

Last year when Australian Prime Minister Albanese paid an official visit to Viet Nam, he announced AUD$105 million of new cooperation money, most of which will be earmarked for economic development in the clean energy future for Viet Nam.

Also in 2023, on the occasion of Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong's official visit to Viet Nam, she announced another AUD$95 million for climate change adaptation in the Mekong so a lot of work we're doing now with Viet Nam will be in climate change and energy transition space.

Just a few weeks ago, when Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh was in Australia, Prime Minister Albanese announced a AUD$2 billion fund for the ASEAN region, which again will be looking at green energy infrastructure.

So there's a lot of money out there which will be applied towards these objectives which are shared between Australia and Viet Nam. Both countries have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and we have a lot to learn from each other in that space.

Not surprisingly, climate change adaptation and energy transition is one the pillars of our comprehensive strategic partnership. We have the political level commitment, financial commitment and very fortunately partnership with our private sector, which will make it all real.

Can you tell us about offshore wind and its role for Viet Nam's economy?

Let me answer that question in two ways, first, explaining the scale and potential of offshore wind as a technology and then secondly, speaking specifically about its potential for Viet Nam.

Offshore wind is the largest scale of the proven renewable technologies that exist today. If we look at a single offshore wind turbine today, its diameter, with over 300 meters, is perhaps larger than the largest football stadium. A single offshore wind farm of more than 1,000 MW could provide clean renewable energy for up to a million households.

In terms of scale, it the most promising technology to deliver a fast transition to net-zero that any country can look at. Its benefits are that because offshore wind is located offshore, it does not have issues of competing land use.

For a country such as Viet Nam, as well as many other countries, that means you can free up the scarce land resource to continue to use for other things, whether it's residential, agricultural, etc.

In terms of its potential for Viet Nam, obviously, Viet Nam has a very long coastline, more than 3000 kilometers long, and it has some of the world's best offshore wind resources, more than 10 meters per second. That ranks as good as the offshore wind resources anywhere.

According to the Power Development Plan 8, offshore wind power is expected to total around 6,000 MW by 2030. Further development of offshore wind power is up to a capacity of 70,000 to 91,500 MW of electricity by 2050. The Power Development Plan 8 itself recognizes the potential for offshore wind to contribute very significantly to the energy source for Viet Nam.

Viet Nam also has a very strong industrial base in terms of oil and gas, so construction. And therefore, offshore wind represents a particularly unique opportunity where not only can the energy source generate clean renewable power, but also there's an opportunity for Vietnamese supply chain to provide some of the components and therefore to provide high-skilled jobs in the local economy as well.

What are opportunities for Viet Nam and Australia to endorse cooperation in offshore wind?

Well, they are very strong and in fact that is what we are focusing on this week. In fact, Mr. Yi-Hua Lu had a one hour meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister in Australia. The PM gave us the go ahead in principle to begin talks with relevant industry leaders and government here in Viet Nam to prepare for the next step for Australia's investment in offshore wind. So this week we actually met with the Chairman of the Viet Nam Electricity (EVN)'s Board of Directors Dang Hoang An who was very positive about the prospects.

We also had meeting with leaders of the Viet Nam Oil & Gas Group (PVN), Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien and Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha who the Prime Minister has asked to oversee these activities.

We have the technology and we have the finance to make this happen and the reason I am involved in these meetings is not just to demonstrate our political commitment and support but also we would like to seriously consider making a financial investment into this first project as well. So the future is very positive.

In fact, Chairman of the EVN reminded us that it was Australia that built the first high voltage power lines between North and South in Viet Nam. We were a very early investor in the power sector here in Viet Nam and I am quietly confident that we can be the next big investor as well.

Mr. Yi-Hua Lu, head of Corio Generation's Asia-Pacific region (APAC), a subsidiary of Macquarie - Photo: VGP

Can you share with us about your offshore wind project that Corio is developing in Viet Nam?

In total Corio has proposed 4,500 MW of projects in the north, central and southern regions of Viet Nam. But today I will probably focus on discussing our project in the central province of Binh Thuan, which is proposed to be in total 3,000 MW.

We have been proposing and developing that project since 2019 and since then have met with government officials both at the provincial and the central level. We have been speaking to all the relevant ministries, including the meeting with the PM most recently in Canberra earlier this month.

This project, if it is to be fully delivered, so the 3,000 MW could power more than 2.5 million homes and provide them with clean, and reliable electricity.

Also, Binh Thuan is the perfect location for such a wind farm. It has excellent wind resource. The water depth is shallow enough to make the project quite competitive in terms of price and it has relatively good access to grid connections.

The locality is relatively close to some of the port infrastructure and other supporting infrastructures that will be needed in order to realize this project, which has the capacity of 1,000 MW in the pilot phase and is expected to put into operation by 2030, thereby meeting Viet Nam's targets.

Can you tell us about the plan after the memorandum of understanding with a subsidiary of Viet Nam Electricity on collaborating on offshore projects?

We were very happy to have signed the MOU with EVN Genco 3 in Melbourne during the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and had an opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister our proposed pilot project.

We received quite positive support from the Prime Minister to take this forward and, so in terms of our next steps, we have firstly already created a working group both at our company level and at the EVN Genco 3 level to work on a more detailed proposal. We would look to submit this detailed proposal as soon as possible to the relevant ministries for their assessment.

Secondly, the Prime Minister emphasized that it is important for us to speak to various other potential Vietnamese stakeholders including the local supply chain. That is why I am in Viet Nam this week again to speak to the likes of EVN, as well as PVN and the purpose of that is to explore as much as possible the supply chain and the industrial strategy that I mentioned earlier. This is sort of a win-win.

It creates high-value jobs in Viet Nam and allows us to make the electricity price as competitive as possible. So we are absolutely as a second step working on deepening those relationships.

Thirdly, we would look to clearly specify what works we would like to carry out in the near term in the next 1-2 years as well as a clear pathway over the medium term to how to get this project through to construction and ultimately operations.

In doing so we would also fully explore possibilities of working with the Australian government for example through various funding that Australia and its partners can provide us.

We really look forward to working closely with the authorities in the coming weeks and months and hopefully implementing the project in time to deliver power and be operational by the end of this decade.

Source: VGP