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Sep 28, 2020 / 09:13

Vietnam needs clearer pathways for renewable energy: Mitsubishi Power

Osamu Ono, CEO & managing director of Mitsubishi Power Asia Pacific, tells Hanoitimes about prospects of Vietnam’s power industry and his company’s goal to advance the country’s clean energy solutions.

How would you comment on the prospects for Vietnam’s power industry to attract foreign investment? How broad are the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local and foreign power investors in Vietnam?

 Osamu Ono, CEO & managing director of Mitsubishi Power Asia Pacific

Vietnam’s new Power Development Plan (PDP) VIII is set to be launched next year. We are encouraged by this long-term master plan, with its greater emphasis on renewable energy and the objective of accelerating the transition to clean energy. We foresee that this plan will attract investments in infrastructure development and energy storage systems. 

As Covid-19 has changed patterns of energy consumption – with lower industrial use and higher residential use – ensuring that power supply remains reliable and flexible has become even more critical.

What challenges do you see for a foreign investor and partner of Vietnamese power companies in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s energy mix is still very traditional with heavy reliance on more carbon-intensive fuels. The Ministry of Industry and Trade also predicts that by 2021, electricity demand will outpace the construction of new power plants. 

At Mitsubishi Power, we believe that the paths to decarbonization are manifold and will require optimizing existing assets while simultaneously building new solutions. As such, we provide technical consulting services to improve the efficiency of existing plants, thus allowing them to remain online while grid-level renewable systems are under development. We also offer renewable geothermal plant solutions and are developing low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies such as hydrogen-firing turbines and solid oxide fuel cells that can usher in a cleaner energy future. 

As the proportion of renewables in the energy mix increases, there will be an increasing need to mitigate its intermittency. Under these circumstances, energy storage systems will be crucial. MHI has its Triple Hybrid system which combines solar power with a storage battery and engine generator, and which can be adopted to enhance the usage of renewables. 

As the country works to decrease its coal dependence, natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) stand as viable transition fuels. In particular, LNG has drawn the attention of foreign investors – especially given the runway and resources needed to develop larger scale renewable systems.

For LNG, transport and storage – especially of large volumes – are critical concerns. 

Mitsubishi Power, in partnership with its sister companies within the MHI Group, provides solutions for the entire natural gas value chain: from international transport and safe storage to regasification and power generation. Our Gas Turbine Combined Cycle (GTCC) power plants, including the Phu My 1 project, employ state-of-the-art turbines that have registered industry-leading levels of output and efficiency.

Currently, we are in the midst of converting GTCC plants in the Netherlands to run solely on hydrogen by 2025, and hope to bring these technologies to Vietnam and Asia Pacific in the near future.

The ceremony for signing Training Agreement between Vietnam Electricity (EVN) and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems. Photo: EVN

Policies are key to the development of the industry in Vietnam. What policies do you suggest to boost the development of new business collaboration and newcomers?

The installation of energy storage systems is one way to overcome the instability of power supply caused by more renewables like wind or solar – with their inherent intermittencies and dependence on weather – coming online. Vietnam also needs clearer pathways to install infrastructure for renewable energy, which would entice enterprises to set up competitively priced energy solutions for the country. 

At Mitsubishi Power, one of our focus areas is to ensure operability of existing systems, especially during this challenging time when the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of remote plant monitoring and operations. We hope to work with our partners in Vietnam to introduce these advanced technologies to the market.

As the new Managing Director and CEO for Mitsubishi Power Asia Pacific, what is your plan for the development of the power industry in Vietnam toward sustainability in the future?

The global rebrand of Mitsubishi Power on September 1, 2020 signifies a bold step in our mission to become a leading energy solutions company driving decarbonization while ensuring reliable delivery of power to the people of Vietnam and around the world.

Mitsubishi Power has been partnering Vietnam in its energy journey for more than 20 years, and we hope to work even more closely together in the coming decades as the country ramps up its transition towards cleaner energy. 

Thank you for this interview!