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Natural Climate Solutions
Nov 30 • 3 min read

Accelerating the Expansion of Renewable Energy in Vietnam

Simosol is one of the key participants in the renewable energy resource mapping project in Vietnam. The purpose of the project is to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy, and therefore the Ministry of Industry and Trade has requested the support of the World Bank and ESMAP’s Renewable Energy Resource Mapping Initiative to help improve the country’s knowledge and awareness of biomass, small hydro, and wind energy resources.

The project made good progress with the Data Validation Workshop recently held in Hanoi. The crop biomass and industrial biomass surveys were introduced and discussed. Furthermore, the Biomass Atlas for Vietnam was described to the audience and discussed at length. Simosol has been in the key position to develop the analytical methods used for creating the atlas together with Full Advantage from Thailand.

The Biomass Atlas

In the project we’ll create a Biomass Atlas for the whole country. The atlas will have three major components: 1) the availability of crop harvest residues for industrial scale power generation across the country, 2) the most suitable regions for greenfield power generation investments, and 3) the potential for increased power generation at the already established industrial sites processing biomass.

The starting point is to map all agricultural fields in Vietnam: the crops cultivated, the yields the farmers get and the existing use for the harvest residues. This is done by combining satellite image analysis and an extensive field survey (over 21,000 interviews with the farmers) carried out by the students from the Vietnam National University of Agriculture and the Nong Lam University.

The field survey covering the whole country.

Analysis of these datasets allowed us to produce the theoretical and technical feedstock potential maps:

The theoretical potential consists of all the harvest residue produced over the year on the fields. However, as the residue has also other uses than industrial scale energy production, the technical potential consists of the portion of residue that is currently burned directly on the fields.

The next step is to figure out what could be done about the technical potential, could it sustain larger scale power generation in Vietnam? To answer this question, we built a spatial analysis model that takes into consideration not only the feedstock potential, but also other relevant factors: how do you get the feedstock from the fields to the power plant (transport network), how do you distribute the generated electricity (power transmission network), and what technology options exist to convert the harvest residue into electricity.
The outcome of this analysis is a series of site suitability heatmaps over the country indicating regions that are favourable for power generation investments (dark red areas below). The final atlas will have a series of these heatmaps for a range of different power generation technologies.

To summarize, there is even more to this project, like the analysis of the existing industry utilising biomass for power generation, but let’s leave that to a different blog post. The project will still continue with phase III during which we’ll finalise the analysis. Everything culminates in the final workshop and training events in March 2018. After all, this kind of analysis is only useful when it helps the industry to make better informed sound decisions. Hence our focus on training at the end of the project.

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Santiago Velásquez

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