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Repeated power outages interrupt production in northern Vietnam

Repeated power outages interrupt production in northern Vietnam

Tuesday, June 06, 2023, 19:05 GMT+7
Repeated power outages interrupt production in northern Vietnam
A company at Yen Phong Industrial Park in Bac Ninh Province, northern Vietnam told its workers to stay home on June 5, 2023. Above inset: Hi Viet Food Company closes due to a blackout. Below inset: A worker of a concrete company returns home due to power failure. Photos: Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre

A rotational power cut plan has hit many enterprises in Bac Ninh Province, northern Vietnam as they have to repeatedly suspend their operations.

The current state of the national power system is described as an ‘extreme emergency,' according to the National Load Dispatch Center.

The Vietnam Electricity Group’s latest report sent to the national government showed that the northern region may lack 8,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, well above the earlier forecast of 5,000MW.

Many enterprises in Yen Phong, Dai Dong Hoan Son, and Tan Hong Industrial Parks in Bac Ninh Province, a neighbor of Hanoi, suffered blackouts from 5:00 am on Monday to 5:00 am the next day.

Meanwhile, Tien Son, Que Vo, and expanded Que Vo Industrial Parks saw their power cut between 8:00 am on Monday and 8:00 am on Tuesday.

The blackouts were attributed to an abnormal heatwave which might have dried hydropower reservoirs.

At Tien Son Industrial Park, workers of many companies, such as Canon, Sumitomo, and THK Manufacturing of Vietnam, were off work on Monday.

Enterprises there completely halted manufacturing activities.

Similarly, many companies at Yen Phong Industrial Park conducted no production activities due to a power cut.

Some units at several companies were still working, using power generators.

An employee of a company manufacturing mechanical accessories at Yen Phong Industrial Park said the firm has some 300 workers. However, all of the workers were off work for 24 hours from 8:00 am on Monday.

“The company has to use power generators to operate a gate for vehicles [entering the company] to handle goods," the employee said.

“The extended blackout will affect the completion of orders, even delay exports.”

Meanwhile, a food processing company at the industrial park was operating perfunctorily, using power generators.

“Due to a power cut, the company has to employ a power generator to run its cold storage facility at VND11 million [US$473.3] per day. [The power generator] needs some 100 liters of oil for operation over 10 hours," the processing company's representative said.

“Thirty workers are still at work.”

An electronics firm at Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in Bac Ninh also has a plan to rent a power generator, a company representative said. 

The company recently suffered a blackout between 8:00 pm and 12:00 am without prior notice and its workers waited for the power supply to continue their work.

Without power supply, many enterprises suspended their production, so many workers sat idle.

N.T.N., a worker of THK Manufacturing of Vietnam Company, said her firm asked all workers to stay home on Monday due to a power outage.

“Most companies in the area closed down [on Monday] due to the power cut. I am afraid that the company’s orders will be affected, resulting in workers’ salary cuts,” N. said.

To Thi Thom, a worker of a company at Dai Dong Industrial Park, shared the view, saying that she and her husband work for two different companies but they were off work on Monday due to power cuts.

“My company has some 500 workers. This is the second time all of the workers have been off work due to power failure," Thom said.

“Although my company still pays enough salary, I will be worried if the power failure extends.”

Amid the shortage of electricity for production, secretary of the Bac Ninh Party Committee Nguyen Anh Tuan asked the provincial Department of Industry and Trade and Bac Ninh Power Company to work out a detailed scenario to minimize power cuts in manufacturing firms.

Chairman of the Bac Ninh People’s Committee Le Anh Duong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the province required electricity cuts.

In particular, it called on manufacturing facilities to turn off all or half of their lighting systems in corridors and parking lots, and conduct part of the manufacturing activities after 10:00 pm.

Many enterprises at the Yen Phong Industrial Park in Bac Ninh Province suspend their operation on June 5, 2023 due to a power outage. Photo: Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre

Many enterprises at Yen Phong Industrial Park in Bac Ninh Province, northern Vietnam suspended their operations on June 5, 2023 due to a power outage. Photo: Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre

National Assembly deputy Do Thi Lan from northern Quang Ninh Province raised her concerns over the impact of the power shortage on the economic development, saying that the dry season has just begun but many enterprises have faced power cuts all day, not just one or two hours.

Vietnam has approved the national power development plan VIII but the country should also come up with a specific and feasible plan to deal with power shortages, with the Ministry of Industry and Trade bearing the main responsibility, Lan said.

“I propose the government review the implementation of a strategy for supplying electricity for production and socio-economic development and work out specific solutions to the power shortage.”

A security guard of a company in Hoai Duc District, Hanoi works in a narrow room. He must use a paper fan during the power cut. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A security guard of a company in Hoai Duc District, Hanoi works in a narrow room. He must use a paper fan during a power cut. Photo: Pham Tuan / Tuoi Tre

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the main resources of electricity in the northern region are hydroelectricity and thermal power, which account for 46 and 51 percent, respectively.

The region reported the highest power consumption growth in the country, at an average of 9.3 percent per year in 2016-20, equivalent to nearly 6,000MW.

Meanwhile, the power output grew by 4,600MW, or 4.7 percent.

Delays in large power projects will cause a power shortage in the medium to long term.

Although the capacity of operational power plants totals 81,000 MW, the mobilization capability remains limited, Tran Anh Thai, director of Vietnam Power Resource Partners Corporation, told Tuoi Tre.

Hydropower and coal-fired thermal power plants can operate at only half of their capacity, while renewable energy resources are redundant during the daytime only.

Workers repair a power transmission line along a National Highway 10 section in phu Tuc Commune, Dinh Quan District, Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Tham Hang / Tuoi Tre

Workers repair a power transmission line along a National Highway 10 section in Phu Tuc Commune, Dinh Quan District, Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Tham Hang / Tuoi Tre

Power supply stable in southern region

As of Monday, the power supply in Ho Chi Minh City remains stable, said Bui Trung Kien, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation.

The corporation has negotiated with over 630 customers who annually consume one million kilowatt hours of electricity and above each to encourage them to participate in the demand response (DR) program to shrink power consumption during peak hours.

Up to two-thirds of the participating firms have cut their consumed electricity volumes.

The corporation is also working with 160 customers that have power generators to get their support in urgent cases in a bid to take initiative in providing a stable power supply.

Cat Van Loi Company at Automotive - Mechanical Industrial Park in Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City has yet to face a power shortage, Le Mai Huu Lam, director of the company, told Tuoi Tre on Monday.

The Southern Power Corporation (EVNSCP) also reported that it adequately supplies power to 21 southern localities.

Nearly 4,600 EVNSCP customers taking part in the DR program saved 869MW of electricity from May 15 to June 3.

In Dong Nai Province, a neighbor of Ho Chi Minh City, the provincial People’s Committee asked the power sector not to set power saving targets for customers in the industrial production and construction spheres so as not to disrupt enterprises’ production, business, and workers’ lives.

The province called on enterprises to move part of their production to later than 10:00 pm.

As a result, enterprises and state agencies in the province have saved over 9.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity, Dong Nai Power Co. Ltd. informed.

“Power supply is sufficient to over 6,100 large companies in industrial parks and about one million customers. Dong Nai faces no power shortage,” a leader of the company said.

Neighboring Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province has not applied a rotational power cut schedule, Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Power Company, affirmed on Monday.

He explained that southern localities are not subject to the Vietnam Electricity Group’s rotational power cut plan and power resources in the region are abundant.

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Thanh Ha - Ha Quan - Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre News

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