HANOI, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam's state utility EVN is set to ramp up its electricity imports from neighboring countries China and Laos but net imports will only contribute a small percentage to the overall demand, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Vietnam is buying about 4 million kWh (kilowatt hours) per day from China and another 7 million kWh from Laos, thus the imports account for about 1.3 percent of the country's total daily electricity output of over 850 million kilowatt hours, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An.
"The country's electricity imports remain quite small," said the trade deputy minister, highlighting the fact that there have been cross-market collaborations between Vietnam and its neighboring countries to boost energy markets.
Vietnam has imported power from China since 2005 and traditionally exported electricity to Cambodia based on agreements, said the trade deputy minister.
State utility EVN has partnered with investors in Laos to build one 500-kilovolt and four 220-kilovolt transmission lines between both markets.
Vietnam also has ongoing developments for hydropower projects in Laos and imports electricity from Laos via cross-border grid connections, said the deputy minister.
Vietnam may depend more on electricity imports as the country's energy sector is going through a major overhaul with stronger use of renewable sources, according to the deputy minister.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai admitted at a government meeting last weekend that there had been "power shortages for households and businesses at certain locations at certain time".
Nationwide power outages, with northern provinces hardest hit, are attributable to extremely hot and dry weather that has reduced power output at hydro plants and coal-fired generators that keep breaking down.
The power crunch comes at a time when the government has approved the Power Development Plan 8, which lays out the target of doubling Vietnam's energy generation capacity to over 150 gigawatts by 2030 from 69 gigawatts at the end of 2020.
Under the plan, coal-fired power output would drop to 20 percent of power supply by 2030 from almost half now while the share of renewable energy in the country's power mix would be raised to between 67.5 and 71.5 percent.
Vietnam aims to raise its electricity imports to 5 gigawatts by 2030, or 3.3 percent of its power mix, according to the plan.