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Vietnam Inks Deal to Buy Massive Amounts of Electricity From Laos

The move comes as the Vietnamese government works to avoid projected power shortages in the near future.

VnExpress reports that Vietnam Electricity (EVN) signed contracts over the weekend to buy huge amounts of hydropower from Laos starting next year.

Accordingly, the state electricity utility will purchase nearly 600 million kilowatt-hours (kWH) of power from two hydropower plants controlled by Phongsubthavy Group, and 632 million kWh from two other plants operated by Chealun Sekong Group.

Those agreements will start in 2022, while EVN will also buy 236 million kWh per year from another Chealun Sekong plant from 2021.

All told, this means EVN will import nearly 1.5 billion kWh of electricity per year under these contracts. Vietnam's current total energy capacity is nearly 50 billion kWh.

According to the news source, these moves were approved by the government as part of the ongoing efforts to avoid power shortages that the Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast will hit Vietnam from 2021.

That year, the country is currently expected to be 3.7 billion kWh short of power for national demand, a figure that will grow to 15 billion kWh by 2023. Afterward, new power generation projects are expected to come online and ease the problem.

Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered EVN to ensure that there will be no power shortages. He called on the utility to quicken improvement to the national electrical grid, while also speeding up work on a number of coal-fired power plants, a move that faces opposition from environmental groups and is under increased scrutiny given the ongoing air pollution crises in Hanoi and Saigon.

Renewable energy, particularly solar, has grown explosively in Vietnam over the last year, but further expansion is currently stalled as developers await new policies.

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