Virus-hit wind projects in Vietnam seek government relief

HANOI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Wind energy developers are calling on the Vietnamese government to extend the deadline of its feed-in tariff (FiT) policy as projects with combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts are hampered by the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Vietnam was looking to more than double its power generation capacity over the next decade, with a focus on renewable energy.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), which represents the developers, in a statement on Thursday asked the government to postpone the FiT deadline by six months to April next year.

The FiT was set in 2018 at 8.5 cents/kWh for all wind energy projects becoming operational before Nov. 1, resulting in an investment pipeline of more than 140 wind projects.

“Due to pandemic-related obstacles and delays, most onshore wind projects currently in the pipeline will not complete construction in time to meet the deadline,” GWEC said in a statement.

A new wave of COVID-19 infections since late April has seen movement restrictions imposed widely in Vietnam and many companies suspending operations.

GWEC said the pandemic has disrupted supplies of wind project components and prevented workers from reaching project sites, among other issues.

“Missing this deadline would leave these projects outside the FiT scheme, deteriorating their economics and raising the risk of becoming stranded assets,” the body said.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vietnam would double its total installed generation capacity to 137.2 GW by 2030, according to a draft of its power development master plan. The country would raise the proportion of renewable to 44% by 2045 from 25%.

Local energy analysts said the pandemic may force the country to tweak the long-delayed plan as economic growth would be slower than previously projected. (Editing by Martin Petty)