Vietnam has invested in tapping alternative energy sources and developing nuclear electricity to reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels to ensure energy security and sustainable development, a top official has confirmed.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung highlighted the policy at a Vietnam-Norway workshop on hydro-power and electricity market reform in Hanoi on March 19.

According to Hung, the country is also using its energy more effectively and has embraced the application of low-carbon emission technology.

However, he admitted that challenges exist relating to the management and operation of hydro-power plants. Particularly, terraced plants built on rivers are struggling to meet their targets for power generation, irrigation for agricultural production, flood regulation while ensuring environmental safety.

In addition, the ministry also needs to learn from foreign experience in developing a competitive national electricity market by 2020, he added.

Monica Maeland, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, said Norway is able to share its experience in the field.

Per Christer Lund, an electricity industry consultant based in Singapore, said that the electricity market needs more participants and more balance to be truly effective, because Vietnam already has a competitive power generation market and links to the retail sale marketplace.

He suggested Vietnam connect with other regional countries to address the issue because hydro-electricity is still a major power generation source.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s energy consumption was 57 million tonnes of equivalent oil in 2013 and is forecast to increase by seven percent a year during the 2010-20 period and five percent for the decade after.

In its electricity development planning for 2011-2020 with a vision to 2030, Vietnam continues to prioritise the development of hydro-power, bringing total hydro-electricity production to 21,300MW in 2020 from the current level of 14,000MW.-VNA