Assessing renewable energy potential in Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province
In this first instalment of a two part blog series focusing on Energy, LEDS GP Energy Working Group Co-chair Philip Killeen discusses unlocking the potential of the Geospatial Toolkit in Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province.
- Thanh Hoa Province is a rapidly growing hub of economic activity and culture in South-East Asia. Under the national Vietnam Green Growth Strategy, Thanh Hoa is seen as a key province for demonstrating the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a low carbon growth approach to development.
- As part of this national strategy, Thanh Hoa’s Green Growth Action Plan sets ambitious targets for sustainability. Much of this planning was informed by data inputs from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s Geospatial Toolkit.
- The Geospatial Toolkit combines built in global and local datasets. It includes spatial distribution data on renewable energy resources and other critical energy system planning inputs: transmission infrastructure, roads, land use, protected areas, elevation, and administrative boundaries. It also identifies trade offs and synergies between sustainable land use and clean energy, and identifies areas where clean energy supports other development priorities.
Thanh Hoa at a glance
Thanh Hoa Province has a growing population of approximately 3.5 million people. Drawn to the province by high rates of foreign investment and job opportunities, inhabitants of Thanh Hoa are riding a wave of robust economic growth. Provincial GDP has grown 136% between 2010 and 2014, dramatically reducing poverty rates in Thanh Hoa from 25% in 2010 to 9.9% in 2014.
Thanh Hoa Province has a diversified and highly productive endowment of natural resources. These include 245,367 ha of land used for agriculture, 553,999 ha for forestry, 10,157 ha for aquaculture, and 153,520 ha of unused land suitable for food agriculture, forestry, and industry. These abundant natural resources, and the ecosystem services they render, have provided critical inputs to economic growth in the province—but climate change threatens their productive potential.
Green growth action plan
Aiming to sustain economic growth while addressing climate impacts, Thanh Hoa developed its Green Growth Action Plan as part of Vietnam’s national Green Growth Strategy. Supported by USAID, the provincial Green Growth Action Plan aims to substantially curtail greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, encourage sustainable consumption norms, and promote cleaner forms of economic productivity. Integrating renewable energy technologies into Thanh Hoa’s energy system is a critical component of this strategy. Given the mandate for continued economic growth and increased energy access, regional renewable energy resources offer a climate compatible alternative to expensive imported fossil fuels. The Green Growth Task Force implementing Thanh Hoa’s Green Growth Action Plan used the NREL Geospatial Toolkit to determine the potential of the province’s renewable energy resource endowment.
The Geospatial Toolkit
Why was the Geospatial toolkit selected?
The Geospatial Toolkit is map-based software that integrates resource data and geographic information systems (GIS) for integrated resource assessment. Mr Khanh Nguyen, USAID Low Emissions Asian Development (USAID LEAD) Coordinator supporting the Thanh Hoa Green Growth Task Force, noted that the Geospatial Toolkit was adopted to support Thanh Hoa’s renewable energy targets for the following reasons.
- It is a free software application combining built in global and local datasets and allowing input of additional custom GIS data.
- It combines spatial distribution data on renewable energy resources with other critical energy system planning inputs—including transmission infrastructure, roads, land use, protected areas, elevation, administrative boundaries, and other factors influencing renewable energy deployment.
- It provides an effective and compelling visual display of renewable energy resource potential on an easy to use platform. It also identifies trade offs and synergies between sustainable land use and clean energy, and identifies areas where clean energy supports other development priorities.
Customizing the Geospatial toolkit
With training support provided by USAID in January 2015, the Green Growth Task Force accumulated locally available data to prepare a version of the Geospatial Toolkit for Thanh Hoa Province. This version was used to determine the suitability and productive potential of local sites for wind and solar power. Once these sites were identified, the Toolkit provided a megawatt value through which energy planners could evaluate power generation planning.
Wind resource: ≥6 m/s at 65 m height
- waste land with flat topography and with road and grid access
- distance from main road ≤5 km
- distance from transmission grid ≤5 km
- land slope ≤5°
- The Green Growth Action Plan was approved on 28 January 2016
- The Green Growth Task Force has asked USAID to help develop a concept note for the solar photovoltaic plant.
The Green Growth Task Force used the Geospatial Toolkit to collect data on ground mounted solar, rooftop solar, and wind power. Once these data were aggregated, renewable energy generation options were evaluated using a marginal abatement cost curve to determine which technologies should be prioritized (see Figure 3).
The experience of the Green Growth Task Force in using the Geospatial Toolkit offers insights into how the tool can be used in other countries and contexts. Importantly, outputs of the Toolkit are dependent on the quality and availability of data. Thanh Hoa benefitted from pre-existing GIS data made available from other projects. Once produced, these results also need on-site verification through both preliminary site inspections and on-site measurements.
To hear more about how the Geospatial Toolkit was used in Thanh Hoa Province, please access the webinar recording and related resources. If you are curious about potentially applying the GeoSpatial Toolkit in your own country or context, please contact the Energy Working Group through the LEDS GP Remote Expert Assistance on LEDS (REAL) network.
- Ministry of Planning and Investment (2012) The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy.
- VIETRADE (2015) Overview of Thanh Hoa Province. Ha Noi: Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency.
- Muller, S. and Nguyen Manh Hai (2014) The subnational integration of the Viet Nam Green Growth Strategy (VGGS). LEDS GP.
- NREL Geospatial Toolkit: www.nrel.gov/international/geospatial_toolkits.html
- van Tilburg, X., Würtenberger, L. and Rivera Tinoco, R. (2010) Policy Brief: Marginal abatement cost (MAC) curve. Amsterdam: Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN).
Photo: Le Loi Avenue/Wikipedia