Energy security should not rely on intermittent electricity sources such as wind and solar energy

That is the opinion of Mr. Nguyen Tai Son, an energy expert - former General Director of Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company No. 1 around the world energy crisis over the recent time and lessons for Vietnam.

Reporter: Sir, how do you see the energy crisis taking place in many countries around the world?

  Energy expert Nguyen Tai Son

Mr. Nguyen Tai Son: The energy shortage crisis has been taking place critically in Europe and China. The prices of gas, oil, and coal have been soaring since these are the main fuels for electricity generation. Lack of fuels, many power plants have to reduce their generation output or shut down, making these countries cut down their electricity consumption and affecting their economic development.

As can be seen, the energy crisis has had dramatic impacts on industries, hampering production, disrupting food supplies and making supply chains difficult.

Reporter: In your opinion, what are the main reasons why these countries have fallen into an energy crisis?

Mr. Nguyen Tai Son: From the actual data, the following reasons behind the crisis can be seen:

The immediate cause is that because the COVID-19 pandemic in these countries has begun to be controlled, the demand for energy has increased to serve production restoration and development. The root cause is that the global energy supply is finite and unevenly distributed among countries; some countries with abundant resources can export energy, others have to import energy. When economic - political factors interfere with import and export, it will inevitably lead to a lack of supply.

In addition, the energy policies of some countries may not be appropriate when they are in a hurry to switch to renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) at an irrational proportion. European countries and China have cut down their conventional energy sources (coal-fired power plants) and rapidly increased wind and solar energy sources. This has led to the situation that the power system cannot satisfy the electricity demand when weather conditions are not favorable.

Reporter: There is an opinion that to avoid an energy crisis, especially in the electricity sector, any country needs to take the initiative in its supply. So in your opinion, what types of power sources should Vietnam develop?

Mr. Nguyen Tai Son:

We need a re-awareness of the society about the present energy sources to avoid extreme opinions. For example, many people think that only solar power and wind power are good and civilized. It is an extreme view because every source of energy has two sides.

Coal-fired power plants are a very stable and low-cost source of electricity. It is often viewed that their main obstacle is carbon emission, but in fact, the proportion of coal-fired power plants in Vietnam's power system is still lower than that of many developed countries. However, we still need to be cautious due to our dependence on short-term coal supply (experience from some coal-fired power plants in Europe and China having to shut down due to lack of coal). Gas-fired thermal power plants possess an advantage of a stable source of electricity generation, but also depend on short-term supply from outside.

Hydropower plants are a low-cost electricity source with low environmental impacts, but their storage capacity is limited. However, hydropower has not been fully exploited yet, due to many unfounded prejudices of the society, for example, hydropower plants are the reason for floods and droughts. Therefore, it is necessary to have the right communication policy to change this prejudice. Wind and solar energy are relatively expensive, because of the need to invest in both power plants and energy storage systems, and environment-related costs are also very large. I think that currently, wind and solar energy in Vietnam are yet to be complete sources of electricity. That is, we still need to tap into other sources of electricity at times when wind and solar power cannot be generated. Experiences of the countries facing the above crisis show that the proportion of renewable energy sources should be less than 10% in the current period. Therefore, we should not rely too much on intermittent wind and solar power sources.

PV: Thank you very much!

  • 26/10/2021 10:35
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