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As the world grapples with the consequences of climate change and the urgency to transition to renewable energy sources become increasingly apparent, countries are seeking innovative solutions to meet their energy needs. With that sense, Vietnam, a rapidly developing nation with a long coastline, is looking toward the vast potential of wave energy as a sustainable power source. In this article, we will explore the importance of wave energy as a renewable resource, discuss its advantages and potential in Vietnam, and delve into the country’s wave energy development. 

1. Wave Energy: Definition and Significance 

Wave energy, also known as ocean wave power, refers to the capture and conversion of the energy carried by ocean waves into electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, which deplete natural resources and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, wave energy is an infinite and clean source of power. Wave energy devices typically use oscillating water columns, point absorbers, or attenuators to capture the energy of waves and convert it into usable electricity.  

Wave energy has a huge potential to be an important contributor to the world’s “energy mix resilience”. The worldwide technical capacity of wave energy is calculated to be 11,400 TWh annually, while its sustainable generation potential of 1,700 TWh per year amounts to approximately 10 percent of the global energy demand. While the industry is still in its early stages, countries such as the United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, and Spain have made significant progress in wave energy research and development.  

Vietnam, with its extensive coastline stretching over 3,260 kilometers, possesses substantial wave energy potential. According to estimates, the country has 350MW wave energy potential. This vast potential puts Vietnam in a favorable position to tap into this clean and abundant source of energy. 

2. The Advantages of Wave Energy in Vietnam 

As previously noted, the coastal areas of Vietnam possess a significant abundance of wave energy. The lowest recorded average energy flow measures at 15 kW/m, while the highest peaks at an impressive 30 kW/m. Notably, Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh and Ganh Rai Bay in Ba Ria – Vung Tau exhibit ideal conditions for the establishment of tidal power plants. By effectively harnessing this remarkable energy source, Vietnam stands to gain substantial advantages in its pursuit of sustainable power generation. 

One of the key advantages of wave energy lies in its predictability. Unlike solar or wind energy, which are intermittent and dependent on weather conditions, waves follow more predictable patterns, making wave energy a stable and reliable power source. This characteristic makes it particularly appealing for countries like Vietnam, where power demand is increasing due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. 

Additionally, wave energy has a smaller environmental footprint compared to traditional energy sources. It does not produce greenhouse gas emissions or contribute to air pollution, ensuring a healthier and cleaner environment for future generations. The utilization of wave energy also reduces the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, thus enhancing energy security and reducing vulnerability to fluctuating fuel prices. 

Furthermore, wave energy projects have the potential to create local job opportunities, stimulating economic growth and contributing to the country’s renewable energy sector. The development and deployment of wave energy technologies would require expertise in engineering, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance, opening avenues for skilled employment and fostering technological innovation within Vietnam. 

3. Vietnam’s Wave Energy Development  

a. Highlight Projects

The Quang Ngai Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) issued Announcement No. 84/TB-UBND on February 28, 2022, regarding Vice Chairman Tran Phuoc Hien’s conclusions at a meeting about the Ly Son 1 Ingine wave power project. Tran Phuoc Hien chaired a meeting on February 24, 2022, to discuss the project. 

Based on Ingine Pacific Co., Ltd.’s report and discussions, Tran Phuoc Hien concluded: 

  • The Ly Son 1 Ingine wave power project is part of Quang Ngai province’s “non-carbon island initiative” and will receive continued support for development. 
  • Quang Ngai PPC requests an official document from Pacific Company defining the project as an assistance project. Upon completion, the project will be transferred to Quang Ngai PPC, and support will be provided for three years. The company must also assess environmental impact and propose suitable construction solutions. 
  • Quang Ngai PPC will collaborate with relevant departments and agencies to discuss and facilitate project development. 

If Pacific Ingine Company hands over the project, Quang Ngai Electricity Company will manage and operate it. 

PetroVietnam Power Corporation (PV Power) and Vietnam Electricity (EVN) signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for Ca Mau1 and 2 Power Plants 1 and 2 on December 15, 2021. The agreement follows the recovery of ceded gas from the PM3 overlapping area and the conversion of the existing PPA into a new agreement in compliance with regulations and MOIT guidance. 

PVN Chairman highlighted the significance of the event, creating a fair and transparent electricity generation environment. He praised the energy cooperation between PVN/PV Power and EVN and expressed optimism for future successes. 

EVN Member Council representative appreciated the recent collaboration and expected effective implementation of the signed projects. 

Ca Mau 1 and 2 power plants, managed by Ca Mau PV Power, consist of two Combined Cycle Gas Turbines with a total capacity of 1500MW.

b. Government policies and incentives for energy development 

To ensure sustainable economic development and harness the potential of marine energy resources, the 8th Central Executive Committee of the 12th Party Congress issued Resolution No. 36-NQ/TW on Vietnam’s Maritime Economy Strategy until 2030 and vision towards 2045. The resolution prioritizes sectors such as tourism, maritime services, maritime economy, oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, coastal industries, and renewable energy. 

Additionally, Decision 2068/QD-TTg approved the Vietnam Renewable Energy Development Strategy until 2030, with a vision towards 2050. The strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote a green economy by increasing the share of renewable energy sources, particularly wind power. The development of renewable energy laboratories and the involvement of private enterprises are also encouraged. 

Despite favourable investment conditions, Vietnam seeks to attract more private and foreign investment for renewable energy projects. Efforts are being made to provide incentives and facilitate partnerships between businesses, emphasizing the importance of renewable energy utilization for sustainable development.

c. International cooperations and partnerships in advancing wave energy in Vietnam

There was a workshop held in Hanoi on May 26, 2023, which discussed the importance of international cooperation and experience sharing in the just, equitable, and inclusive energy transition. The workshop was co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNDP, and attended by representatives from various countries and organizations. During the workshop, Deputy Foreign Minister Đỗ Hùng Việt and UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi stressed the need for decoupling economic growth from fossil fuel consumption, addressing the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition, ensuring that it is fair and beneficial for all segments of society, and calling for support from developed countries and large emitters of carbon dioxide.  

4. Future prospects and challenges for the development of wave energy in Vietnam  

With its long coastline and favorable wave climate, Vietnam possesses abundant wave energy resources. This presents an opportunity to diversify the country’s energy sources, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and achieve its renewable energy targets. Wave energy has the potential to play a crucial role in Vietnam’s sustainable development goals by contributing to a cleaner and more secure energy mix.  

a. Its challenges  

There are several challenges that need to be addressed for the successful implementation of wave energy in Vietnam.  

  • Technological advancements: Wave energy technology is still in the early stages of development, and significant advancements are needed to make it commercially viable. The sector requires further research, development, and testing to improve the efficiency, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of wave energy conversion devices. 
  • High upfront costs and the need for financing pose significant hurdles that require effective financial mechanisms and private investments. The initial investment required for wave energy projects can be substantial, including the costs of equipment, installation, and grid connection. Securing financing for such projects may pose challenges, especially in emerging economies like Vietnam.  
  • Environmental impacts and ecosystem concerns must be carefully considered and mitigated to ensure sustainable development.  Wave energy projects must be designed and implemented carefully to minimize potential negative impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal environments. Recommended actions that should be integrated into project planning for wave energy in Vietnam include environmental assessments, monitoring, and mitigation measures. 
  • Grid integration and infrastructure development: Integrating wave energy into the existing electricity grid infrastructure can present technical challenges, needing to invest in grid upgrades, transmission systems, and energy storage solutions to accommodate the intermittent nature of wave energy and ensure its efficient integration into the national power system. 

b. Vietnam’s government commitment and sustainable goals  

Vietnam’s government has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable development and renewable energy. The country has set a target of increasing the share of renewable energy in its total energy consumption to 20% by 2030 and 35% by 2045 

Wave energy can contribute to diversifying the renewable energy portfolio, meeting electricity demand along the coastline, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting economic growth through job creation and investments.  

c. Potential Role of wave energy in Achieving Vietnam’s renewable energy targets  

  • Diversification of renewable energy sources: Wave Energy can diversify Vietnam’s renewable energy portfolio by providing a consistent and predictable source of electricity generation. This can help reduce the reliance on intermittent sources like solar and wind power, ensuring a more balanced and reliable renewable energy mix. 
  • Meeting electricity demand along the coastline: Wave energy can be particularly beneficial in meeting the electricity demand of coastal communities and industries. Vietnam’s densely populated coastal regions, with high energy consumption, can benefit from localized wave energy projects, reducing transmission losses and enhancing energy self-sufficiency. 
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Wave energy is a clean and renewable energy source that produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions during operation. By integrating wave energy into its energy mix, Vietnam can significantly reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to global climate change mitigation efforts. 
  • Supporting economic growth and job creation: The development of wave energy projects in Vietnam can stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities in the renewable energy sector. It can attract investments and foster local manufacturing.  

5. Final thoughts  

Wave energy holds great importance as a renewable and sustainable source of power in Vietnam. With its long coastline and favourable wave climate, Vietnam has abundant wave energy resources, providing an opportunity to diversify its energy sources, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and achieve renewable energy targets. 

 Regardless, there are challenges that need to be addressed, such as technological advancements, high upfront costs, environmental impacts, and grid integration. Despite these challenges, the Vietnamese government has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewable energy and has set ambitious targets for its adoption. With the right strategies and investments, wave energy can contribute significantly to Vietnam’s renewable energy transition and pave the way for a sustainable and greener future. 

Discover more about the overview of Vietnam’s renewable energy, click here !