The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) recently released the "Documentary of Draft Decree for rooftop solar power development" and sought public opinion. The draft reiterated that self-use solar power cannot be sold externally. Additionally, it mentioned that Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) would purchase excess power generated by organizations or individuals already connected to the grid at zero cost to control self-generated electricity and prevent grid overload.
According to Vietnam's 8th Power Development Plan (PDP8), by the end of 2030, the maximum rooftop solar power capacity should not exceed 2,600MW. However, as of July 2023, more than 1,000 rooftop solar power systems have been connected to the grid, accounting for a total capacity of approximately 399.96 MW. The Ministry is concerned that further large-scale openings may endanger national power grid safety, hence the introduction of a zero-cost policy to discourage excess power generation.
Representatives from the Electricity and Renewable Energy Department of MOIT stated that in formulating mechanisms for rooftop solar development, they advocate against purchasing excess power from organizations and individuals to avoid burdens on the grid, which could compromise national energy security and disrupt the power system's operations. They recommend that organizations and individuals calculate appropriate electricity generation to avoid unnecessary investment.
Vietnamese economist Ngo Tri Long emphasized that many people want to install solar power systems with maximum capacity to sell excess electricity, leading to grid overload. He highlighted that the actual issue lies in the necessity to invest in infrastructure, particularly transmission systems, before developing rooftop solar energy, ensuring the safe operation of the power system.
Some Experts have suggested using energy storage systems to save power for night. However, according to an energy service company, setting up a rooftop solar power system with a 2,000 square meter battery array costs around 2 billion VND (approximately 83,000 USD), while the adding storage system could reach 5 billion VND (approximately 208,000 USD). For households or small businesses, the cost of setting up a solar energy system with a generating capacity of 1-3 kW is around 40-50 million VND (approximately 1670-2080 USD). It is estimated that the savings on electricity bills could recover this investment within 2 years. However, if energy storage equipment is installed, both the cost and payback period may double.
Vietnam's current Electricity Law establishes basic participation thresholds for the electricity supply market. Even for transactions involving a capacity as low as 1 kW, holding an electricity operation permit is mandatory. This requirement entails registering a business license, tax code, and providing financial report.
Energy expert Tran Van Binh suggests using a bidirectional electricity meter to ensure that "when there is excess electricity, people can sell it to EVN for 0 VND, and EVN will compensate for power shortages." However, the Ministry of Finance previously indicated that this method does not align with tax regulations, thus rendering the compensation mechanism unusable.
The decree will take effect from the date of signing and MOIT esitimates it will be valid until December 31, 2030.