Solar rooftop industry poised for rapid growth

Solar panels installed on the roof of a seafood processing factory in the Mekong Delta. — Photo

Technological advances, preferential credit policies and pricing incentives have set the stage for solar rooftop energy to become the next big thing in clean energy in Việt Nam, according to industry insiders.

As the number of solar farms surged in 2018-19, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has suspended the issuance of new licences for solar farms. This, however, does not cover solar rooftop projects, which still enjoy a purchasing price of 8.39 US cents per kWh. The price point, despite having been scaled down from a previous of 9.35 US cent per kWh, was still largely considered as profitable by investors.

Several preferential policies by the State have also been implemented to shorten the return of investment period to no more than 5-7 years compared to 10-12 years previously, industry insiders have said.

In addition, strides have been made in battery technology that has allowed the production of greater capacity units at lower costs. As solar rooftop technology becomes increasingly economically viable, individual households and real estate developers have shown more interest in getting involved. Meanwhile, large-scale installations in industrial zones now boast even greater potential to cut costs.

According to the HCM City-based export-processing zone Hepza Business Association (HBA), more than 1,000 factories located in the city’s numerous industrial zones have signed up to develop solar rooftop energy with BCG Energy, a subsidiary of Bamboo Capital Group.

The association said during 2020-24, it will develop up to 300MWp through solar rooftop projects to bring it to 1000MWp and cut carbon emissions by 23 million tonnes.

Last week, SkyX Solar, a subsidiary of VinaCapital, and HCM City-based telecommunications firm Saigontel formed a joint venture to develop a solar rooftop project with a combined capacity of 50MWp in 10 industrial zones in Việt Nam’s central and southern regions.

Likewise, real estate developers have wasted no time hopping on the wagon. Developer Novaland and TTC Energy have signed a partnership, which will power Aqua City’s public utility demand with solar-based energy projects.

TTC Energy’s track record includes solar projects with a combined output of more than 700,000kW in Jamona City and Jamona Golden Silk, which the firm claimed help cut emissions by 232 tonnes per year. TTC Energy has also been working with large supermarket chains including Saigon Co.op, Giga Mall Phạm Văn Đồng, cinema chain Galaxy and tourism park Đầm Sen.

Traditionally shunned for high costs and dismal efficiency, solar rooftop projects have seen a second wind as more preferential policies were implemented, said HBA’s chairman Nguyễn Văn Bé.

Bé said solar rooftop may hold the answer to the country’s energy shortage in the future and could be key to cutting carbon emissions.

Source: VNS

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