Vietnam battery storage pilot project gets US$3 million grant from US

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AC Energy staff at the 2019 inauguration of a 330MW Vietnamese solar farm. Image: AC Energy via Facebook.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) will be retrofitted to a utility-scale solar PV power plant in Vietnam, in a pilot project aimed at supporting the spread of renewable energy in the country while reducing power losses. 

A grant for US$2.96 million has been awarded by the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, announced on Friday (15 October) towards the construction of the project. The Consulate General said the pilot will “showcase cutting-edge US technology and leadership within the country”. 

A 15MW / 7.5MWh BESS will be integrated at a 50MWp solar farm in Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa Province. The solar farm was built by a partnership between Vietnamese renewables development platform company AMI Renewables and Philippines-headquartered power plant developer AC Energy. 

The pair’s joint venture (JV) renewable energy company has been awarded the grant and is leading the Khanh Hoa Energy Storage Pilot project. The JV has developed 80MW of solar at two sites including at Khanh Hoa and is constructing a 252MW wind farm. 

“We’re delighted to be entrusted by the US Consulate General to pilot and spearhead battery energy storage systems in Vietnam,” AMI AC Renewables CEO Nguyen Nam Thang said.

“Our solar plant in Khanh Hoa province is an ideal place to demonstrate how energy storage can help Vietnam reach its full renewable energy potential.”

Renewable energy has recently been on a rapid growth trajectory in Vietnam, with a feed-in tariff (FiT) policy leading to the deployment of more than 9GW of rooftop solar PV during 2020. The government is currently figuring out the successor policy to the FiT, our sister site PV Tech reported in early September

PV Tech said that with the sharp increase in installations towards the end of 2020 — with more than 6.7GW installed in the month of December that year alone — have come fears of grid congestion and reports of solar generation being curtailed and unable to be fed into the grid. AC Energy alone has got around 1GW of renewable energy projects in operation and under construction in Vietnam. 

According to a US Consulate General fact sheet, the pilot will offer Vietnam with a “transformative opportunity” to demonstrate the commercial viability of BESS technology for renewable energy production, reduce the impacts of curtailment during periods of surplus renewable energy and demonstrate how stored energy can be integrated into the Vietnamese grid.

It will also provide a pilot case for how stored energy can be sold and explore different applications and benefits that batteries can provide for the grid; including helping shape market design for things like ancillary services and price arbitrage. 

The grant comes after the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded Vietnamese state-owned power company Vietnam Electricity a grant in 2018 to conduct a feasibility study into the deployment of advanced energy storage technologies in the country. 

“We are pleased to support Vietnam’s efforts to expand renewable energy generation, and reduce reliance on coal. This project will show how cutting-edge US energy storage technology can advance these goals and accelerate Vietnam’s transition to a clean energy economy for a climate-resilient future,” the US Mission to Vietnam’s Chargé d’Affaires Marie C Damour said.

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