Overview of hydropower in Vietnam

Power Magazine would like to introduce the general information about the potential and the construction stages of hydropower in Vietnam.

Potential of hydropower

Many evaluation researches have shown that Vietnam can exploit the hydropower capacity of around 25,000-26,000MW, equivalent to about 90-100 billion kWh of electric power. However, the actual potential of hydropower capacity which can be exploited is even higher the figure. According to the experience in hydropower exploitation in the world, the hydropower capacity in Vietnam which can be exploited in the future may be from 30,000MW to 38,000MW and the power  amount which can be exploited is 100 - 110 billion kWh.

Son La Hydropower Plant is one of the typical hydropower works of Vietnam

Stages of development

a) Before 1975

Before 1954, hydropower projects were studied on by the French to exploit hydropower - irrigation for the purpose of colonial exploitation. In that period, hydropower works were located at favourable locations for quick construction and low cost without in-depth studies on the master plan.

From 1954-1975, with the support by the experts of Soviet Union and China, studies on evaluating the hydropower potential of the Red River basin have been carried out since 1956. On August 19th, 1964, the construction of Thac Ba hydropower plant, the first large-scale hydropower work with an initial capacity of 108MW, was commenced with the support by the Soviet Union. This was the cradle where staffs and employees were trained to develop hydropower for the Power sector later.

In 1961, the Japanese Government, with the war compensation program of Second World War, provided funding to build Da Nhim Hydropower project with a capacity of 160MW in the South. However, due to the impacts of the war, this plant had to stop operating in 1965, after nearly a year of operation.

b) From 1975 to 1994

In the period of 1975 - 1994, with the great support from our friend country - Soviet Union, Vietnam successfully built the Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant. This was an important milestone on the great exploitation of hydropower for the country. In the South, the repair of Da Nhim Hydropower Plant was carried out promptly, and at the end of 1975, the plant was put into operation again. In order to further supply power to the South, on 30 April 1984, the construction of Tri An Hydropower Plant was officially commenced.

During this period, in the Central region, surveying and designing units in the country started to implement some small and medium hydroelectric projects such as: Dak H'linh Hydropower (12MW), Vinh Son Hydropower (66MW).

c) From 1995 to 2005

This is the peak period in the country's development of hydropower. Many hydropower works were built and put into operation, including large and multi-purpose ones such as: Ialy hydropower, Ham Thuan - Da Mi hydropower plant, Se San 3 Hydropower plant, Tuyen Quang Hydropower plant, etc.

This period also witnessed the outstanding development and the changes in the quality of hydropower construction techniques in all aspects, from project management, construction consultancy to the construction and operation of hydropower plants. From having to rely entirely on foreign technique experts, Vietnamese staffs mastered all steps to successfully build hydropower works at all scales.

In this period, domestic engineers gained a mass number of technical achievements. Along with the successful design and application of structures in dam construction, the manufacture of hydro-mechanical equipment for hydropower projects has made a remarkable progress. Almost all of the hydraulic mechanical equipment in this period was undertaken by domestic mechanical factories.

From 2006 to present

This is an important stage of continuity in the exploitation of the country's hydropower. The largest hydropower projects built and completed during this period included Son La Hydropower (2400MW), Lai Chau Hydropower (1200MW) and Huoi Quang Hydropower (560MW). The development in Hydropower field began to go more in-depth.

Currently, the Inter-reservoir operation procedure for hydropower cascades has been established and approved by the Prime Minister for all river basins characterized by hydropower cascades. By 2018, there were a total of 80 large hydropower projects and hydropower plants newly operated with the total capacity of installed units of 15,999MW.

Up to now, large hydropower projects with the capacity of over 100MW are almost fully exploited. The construction of projects with favourable locations and low investment costs has been also commenced. Some hydropower plants are being under construction to expand their scales and investment is invested in building pumped storage hydropower plants to match the power structure in the national power system.


  • 20/06/2019 05:16
  • evn.com.vn