The Vietnam National Power Transmission Corporation aims to create a stable, safe national power grid, its Director General, Vu Ngoc Minh, told the weekly Kinh te Vietnam & The gioi (Vietnam and World Economic Affairs).

*Will you explain your assessment of the grid's performance?

When we talk about the power transmission sector, we should mention the function of the first line of the trans-Vietnam 500 kV line, which was put into commission in May, 1994. It has played a pivotal role in merging the power line between the North and the South. Together with lines one and two of the trans-Vietnam 500 kV, line 3 connects Pleiku, My Phuoc and Cau Bong, and was commissioned in May, 2014. It has helped strengthen and stabilise power transmission nationwide.

In my opinion, the present 500 kV transmission line has played an important role in supplying stable electricity to all of Vietnam's major cities and economic zones. Our corporation has extended its management to 61/63 provinces nationwide, with 500-220 kV power stations operating in 57/63 provinces.

In addition, we are proud to say that advanced technology has been used in our power transmissions, including the 220 kV underground cable and the GIS 220 kV stations.

*What challenges does your corporation face?

The first two biggest challenges we have to face are weather conditions and the topography. These two factors have strong impacts on the operation of transmission lines, particularly in the monsoon season.

As I mentioned earlier, the North-South transmission lines link all power transmission lines nationwide (north-central and south regions) into one grid. So when an incident occurs somewhere in the 500 kV, it will immediately affect power transmission nationwide. At worst, it could cause a blackout in one region or even in the whole country.

The incident that occurred in the Da Nang 500 kV station on September 2 was a case in point. As a result, several regions along the North-South 500 kV power line experienced short blackouts. Or we can consider the incident on May 22, 2013, on the 500 kV North-South transmission line, which caused a big power shortage in the South.

And in a domino effect, transmission lines were seriously affected nationwide, cutting power to many regions in northern, central and southern Vietnam for several hours.

*Can your corporation do something to ensure the trans-Vietnam power line's safety?

In addition to applying measures to promote quality management of the line, we also have to conduct regular inspections for detecting any mishaps, and perform regular checks on transformers and equipment to ensure it operates normally. We have also used the GIS application and other advanced equipment to protect the line.

The biggest challenge we are currently facing is how to manage the various technologies used in the management and operation system, as our equipment was procured from various manufacturers according to winning bidders' choice.

Another major challenge I should mention is maintaining power transmission line 1, which has been in operation for more than 20 years. This is a big economic issue that we have to consider very carefully.

*Has your corporation worked out a plan to meet the increasing electricity demand of 265-275 billion kWh per year by 2020?

To ensure stable and safe power transmission nationally, our corporation has invested nearly 18.6 billion VND (885 million USD) this year in upgrading transmission lines.

For the immediate future, my corporation will install more equipment and facilities to compensate for the 220-110 kV in the North-Central and South Vietnam and ensure the supply of stable voltage. In the long run, we'll focus more on increasing the liability and stability of the transmission line, and reducing losses.

In the pipeline, we plan to develop a national electric model with five big diagrams: the national electric power development plan, an operation organisation, an electrical moderation system, a communication system and an automatic breaker system. We hope that when the plan is implemented we will have a safe and sustainable power line, and that we will be able to connect it to regional countries' transmission lines.-VNA