Severe drought affects electricity production of northern hydropower plants

The drought has lowered water levels at hydropower reservoirs to below what is known as the "dead level", forcing a halt to operations.

Viet Nam News

Viet Nam News



Water level at Sơn La Hydropower Plant's reservoir has dropped to seriously low level, affecting the plant's operations. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyết

June 14, 2023

HÀ NỘI — The ongoing severe drought has lowered water levels at hydropower reservoirs in the North to below what is known as the “dead level”, forcing a halt to the operation of a series of turbines that results in the power shortage in the region.

Low water levels plague reservoirs

For the first time ever, Thác Bà Hydropower Plant in Yên Bái Province has to halt operations at two of its three turbines due to the water shortage, while the remaining turbine is running at minimum capacity.

Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, Deputy General Director of Thác Bà Hydropower JSC, said that since June 1, the water level at Thác Bà Reservoir has dropped below the dead level, which is the cut-off for optimal running capacity. In May, power production was 2 million kWh, equivalent to only one-tenth of the amount recorded in the same period last year.

Thác Bà is not the only case in point because of the water shortage. In a report released by the Department of Safety Engineering and Industrial Environment under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on June 8, 11 others across the country have stopped generating electricity.

Reservoirs suffering from dead water levels across the nation include Lai Châu, Sơn La, Thác Bà, Tuyên Quang, Bản Vẽ, Trung Sơn, Thác Mỗ, and Trị An. In the north, except for Hoà Bình Hydropower Reservoir, the majority are failing to provide water for the plants.

As a result, the power supply has fallen below the demand for the public’s daily activities and production.

Trần Việt Hoà, Director of the MoIT’s Department of Electricity Regulation, said that the total available capacity of the electricity system in the North (including imported electricity) was only 17,500-17,900MW (about 59.2 per cent of the installed capacity). This amount includes about 2,500-2,700MW brought over from the southern and central regions to the north.

Meanwhile, the demand for electricity in the North may reach 23,500-24,000MW in the coming hot days. As a result, the northern electricity system will face a shortage of about 4,350MW, with an average daily shortage of about 30.9 million kWh and even 50.8 million kWh on peak days.

At the same time, Hoà Bình Reservoir can only supply water to the Hoà Bình Hydropower Plant until June 13. At that time, the power supply in the northern region will be further cut by 5,000MW to 7,000MW, causing a domino effect of cutting into the power supply across the nation.

Urgent solution: power saving

Power expert Trần Đình Long said that this year, amid the extreme weather conditions due to the impact of the El Nino weather phenomena, power demand tends to surge.

He said that one of the urgent solutions that must be applied immediately is saving electricity. On June 8, the Prime Minister issued a decree on strengthening power saving in the 2023-2025 period and following years.

Vietnam Electricity (EVN) General Director Trần Đình Nhân said that so far, all the 63 cities and provinces have sketched out plans to conserve electricity. The EVN has coordinated with the Northern Power Corporation (EVNNPC), the Hanoi Power Corporation, and city power companies to regulate the power supply to suit the situation in each locality. Meanwhile, amid rising electricity demands and modest supply, rotating power cuts at certain times is a must, he said.

In order to ensure effective power allocation, last week, the EVN asked the EVNNPC to carefully calculate the demand-supply balance and allocate power to provincial power companies, with priority given to important activities approved by the provincial People’s Committee as well as crucial socio-political activities and important events. — VNS

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