Challenges of the Waste-to-energy sector in Vietnam

, Challenges of the Waste-to-energy sector in Vietnam

A shocking amount of 38,000 tons of municipal waste was generated daily in Vietnam (2017), about 85% of the waste is simply buried without any treatment in landfill sites, 80% of which are seriously polluting the environment. An effective waste-to-management technology implementation is expected to be the ideal solution for Vietnam, as it can reduce up to 90% of the waste volume, at the same time, generating energy to meet the rising demand in Vietnam.

Due to the rapid industrialization recently despite Covid-19, the energy demand in Vietnam is growing fast at an expected rate of over 8% in the next 10 years. With the increase in both waste generated and energy demanded, waste-to-energy technologies are exactly what Vietnam needs.

The Hanoi People’s Committee has just issued Plan 152/KH-UBND on speeding up the implementation of investment projects in the construction of domestic solid waste treatment plants to generate electricity in Nam Son (Soc Son district) and Xuan Son district. Son (Son Tay town and Ba Vi district). The current projects include Soc Son Waste Power Plant with a capacity of 4,000 tons/day (at the Soc Son Waste Treatment Complex) and continued construction of the Seraphin Waste Power Plant with a capacity of 1,500 tons/day (at Xuan Son Solid Waste Treatment Area). Others include facility in Vinh Tan (Dong Nai) with a capacity of 600 tons/day, generating capacity of 30MW, facility in Phu Ninh (Phu Tho) with a capacity of 500 tons/day; two facilities in Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City with a capacity of 1,000 tons/day each.

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Cận cảnh nhà máy điện rác Sóc Sơn 7.000 tỷ đồng đang chậm tiến độ - Ảnh 10.

Cận cảnh nhà máy điện rác Sóc Sơn 7.000 tỷ đồng đang chậm tiến độ - Ảnh 10.

Currently, the Soc Son garbage power plant has completed 100% of the machine installation for the main plant. Equipment imported from Germany and some other countries are expected to arrive in Vietnam at the end of November 2021 (Photo:

Soc Son waste power plant (located in Soc Son Waste Treatment Complex) has an investment of 7,000 billion VND. It is expected that in the process of burning garbage, about 75MWh of electricity will be collected every hour. The project uses Belgium’s mechanical incineration technology, is expected to burn about 4,000 tons of waste/day, inert waste components, ash and slag are also used to produce construction materials (non-brick building, calcination or leveling). The plant is expected to operate in January 2022, however, in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic, the project’s progress is being affected.

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However, attracting investors to waste-to-energy projects is not simple. Many waste power projects in Vietnam are uncompleted because technology requires too much money (equipment accounts for 70-80% of the total investment) and it is difficult to adapt to the reality in our country that waste is not classified at the source. For those that have been completed, the economic efficiency is not high.

Meanwhile, no matter what type of technology is used, the power efficiency of waste power plants is small (the highest is only 30%). Because the electricity capacity generated on the national grid will also be small, the payback period of these projects is usually slow, from 10-20 years. Moreover, as the investment in solid waste treatment is a form of investment in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP), the necessary investment procedure to select an investor has taken 1-2 years. After that, enterprises also have to complete construction investment procedures such as design appraisal, fire prevention and fighting appraisal and approval, environmental impact assessment report, procedures for completing environmental protection works. ..

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Núi rác Cam Ly lại ập xuống thung lũng - Ảnh 1.

Núi rác Cam Ly lại ập xuống thung lũng - Ảnh 1.

Hundreds of tons of garbage dumped into the valley below along with stinking water in Da Lat (Photo: tuoitreonline)

In Decision No. 31/2014/QD-TTg dated May 5, 2014 of the Prime Minister “On the mechanism to support the development of power generation projects using solid waste in Vietnam” in addition to regulations on responsibilities purchasing electricity from power generation projects using solid waste also has regulations on investment capital and tax incentives; land incentives; electricity price support. Up to now, there is no guidance on solid waste treatment prices applied to waste electricity technology.

According to Pham Nguyen Hung, General Manager at Power Construction Consulting Joint Stock Company 1 (PECC1), a pioneer in designing waste-to-energy power plants in Vietnam, the Government needs to direct the review and amendment of legal documents, processes and procedures that still have obstacles between current regulations on construction investment management in the field of urban domestic waste management (legislation on PPP, regulations on development of garbage power projects, planning work, etc.), at the same time, concretise investment incentive policies. Once the mechanism is in place, it is necessary to simplify administrative procedures, create favorable conditions for enterprises to invest in solid waste treatment, and soon form an environmental industry in Vietnam.

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By Tram Anh Pham

“Trâm Anh is a Hanoi-based sustainability promoter and writer. She is on the mission to create a sustainability movement for SMEs in Vietnam. She is the founder of Good Human, an environmental group with engaging contents and campaigns related to sustainability and circular economy. Get in touch with Trâm Anh at for collaboration and partnership!

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