High cost casts a shadow on solar power

HCM CITY (Viet Nam News/ANN) – High cost of installing solar power prevents households from accessing to a renewable energy source.

Luc Van Tan, a HCM City resident, is considering installing solar power panels on his 35sq-m rooftop to save on electricity bills.

But the initial investment for the panels has made Tan think twice.

It costs between VND25 million (USD1,070) and VND30 million (USD1,280) for each 10sq-m panel. That means Tan would have to spend about VND90 million (USD3,840).

In spite of the long-term profits solar power brings, many families hesitate to install the panels due to the cost.

Solar power panels are installed on the rooftops of households in Hanoi

It is estimated that it takes just five years to recoup the investment but not all families can afford the initial outlay.

Tran Dinh Nhan, general director of Vietnam Electricity (EVN), said: “There are no loans available to support people willing to use solar powers, which prevent households from accessing the renewable energy source.”

Two years after home solar systems were launched, only 1,800 customers including offices, businesses and households had so far invested in rooftop panels, according to EVN.

“The power generated is below the country’s solar energy potential,” Nhan said.

Solar panels not only help people to cover their domestic electricity demands but also contribute to the national power grid.

EVN has said it would install electricity metres in houses to measure extra rooftop solar power and buy from customers who were willing to sell.

However, this preferential policy has been held back by late legislation. EVN had been unable to sign contracts with customers because there were no instructions regarding payment methods, Nhan said.

The corporation has asked the government to offer financial incentives and called on investors to support home solar system.

The country’s largest power generator is also working with the German Development Bank KfW and has asked the government to use the bank’s solar power development package worth 14 million euros to support home rooftop solar panels.

According to the EVN representative, if approved, each household would receive from VND2 million (USD85) to VND6 million (USD255), depending on panel capacity, for the installation. The assistance was only a small package but would encourage more families to install panels.

Many customers complained that they did not know which panels to install or how to maintain them.

EVN was considering high-quality solar panel suppliers and would publish list of qualified companies on the corporation’s website as a reliable reference source for customers, Nhan said.

Vietnam’s annual power consumption has increased by 10 per cent in recent years, and the country is at risk of facing power shortages in the 2020s.

According to environmental experts, renewable energy like solar would play a vital role in helping Vietnam accomplish its long-term goal of hooking up the whole country to the national grid.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung said at a renewable energy workshop this week Vietnam had witnessed a ‘wave’ of local and international investment in renewable energy thanks to consistent policies and support mechanisms.