New Study: Dual-Use Approaches for Solar Energy and Agriculture

Over the last 30 years, Viet Nam has managed a remarkable development of its agricultural sector and its energy sector. Recently, a new challenge has arisen at the nexus of both sectors, involving land-use conflicts caused by the increasing influx of wind and solar energy investments in particular. Viet Nam’s renewable energy resourcesare vast and largely untapped.

With the new support schemes for wind and solar energy, around 300 renewable energy projects are currently under development; among them 285 solar projects representing 23,000 MWp of capacity. The large and still growing number of new solar PV investment projects has raised concerns particularly in the Vietnamese “food basket“ provinces in the South with regard to potential land-use conflicts.

Solar PV dual-use or agrivoltaic concepts can resolve land-use conflicts between energy and agriculture production, by combining both on the same site. Developed in the early 1980’s in Germany, the concept has been implemented in a number of countries with hundreds of (mainly small scale) projects and applications.

Solar dual-use provides multiple socio-economic benefits that are mainly based on the key concept of the increased land productivity of the combined system, compared to the single-use of the same area of land. The increase of this Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) through dual-use applications has been proven by pilot projects in different countries.

This new study commissioned by GreenID Viet Nam analyses international experience with dual-use approaches and assesses potentials of this innovative approach for Vietnam. With the help of a case study in one of the Mekong Delta provinces and based on real agricultural production data from this province, the report assesses a realistic and short-term potential for the application of this innovative approach in Viet Nam.

Key findings:

  • The application of the dual-use concept in a case study for Can Tho shows great potential for solar dual-use. Suitability for solar dual-use (agrivoltaic) applications could be identified for nine agricultural and aquaculture products (rice, corn/maize, soybean, sesame, vegetables, cassava/starch roots, livestock, fish and shrimp).
  • Based on these crops, an overall “realistic”technical potential (as such realizable within the next 5-8 years) could be calculated for Can Tho. Excluding rice production, this potential is in the range of 700 to 1,100 MWp, equaling an electricity potential of1 to 1.5 TWh. This solar electricity generation would cover 46% to 70% of Can Tho’s annual electricity demand.
  • Including dual-use application on rice production areas, the “realistic” potential would increase to 7,500 to 11,300 MWp or 5 to 16 TWh. This amount of clean electricity far exceeds the city’s electricity demand and could thus contribute to the demand of the wider Mekong Delta region and further neighboring provinces.
  • Regarding the costs of solar power from dual-use applications, a conservative assessment was made based on assumptions derived from the limited available international data. According to this assessment, the solar dual-use LCOE are estimated at 9.07 USct/kWh in a base case scenario, with a range between 8.40 USct/kWh (low cost case) and 9.81 USct/kWh (high cost case) and therefore roughly within the range of the current FiT in Viet Nam (9.35 USct/kWh) or about 5 USct/kWh above the current avoided cost tariff for Southern Viet Nam (7.48 USct/kWh).
  • International experience shows that with the dramatically decreased costs of solar PV technology, the growing number of agrivoltaic best practice projects and the development of the dual-use application, this approach is a viable option for Viet Nam to avoid or reduce land-use conflicts related to the increased influx of solar energy investments and the pressure on land owners that comes with it.
  • To develop solar dual-use in Can Tho and Viet Nam in general, the development of a Dual-Use Roadmap is suggested. The most important element of such a roadmap would be the implementation of a Vietnamese solar dual-use pilot project to verify the suitability and potential of selected crops in the local agro-ecological context. Furthermore, a development strategy should include an institutional foundation such as regional Steering Committee or Working Group to integrate important stakeholders, to undertake advocacy work towards regulators or financing institutions and to raise awareness among farmers and other sector stakeholders.

The study was commissioned by Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID), a leading energy & environment NGO in Viet Nam, with funding from Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation Germany.

The study is available for download on the website of GreenID Vietnam. Or you can download it directly here.

First ‘Renewable Energy Week Vietnam 2016’ in Can Tho and Hanoi

From November 15th to November 19th 2016 the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Association (VSEA) organized the first Renewable Energy Week Vietnam 2016 in the two cities of Can Tho in the heart of the Mekong delta and Hanoi.

This event aimed to promote public awareness on renewable energy in Vietnam, at the same time to create a forum for multi-stakeholders to debate, exchange on renewable energy policies, market incentives, best practices and the outlook on sustainable energy application in Vietnam in the forthcoming years. VSEA additionally sponsors a series of presentations as well as further workshops and nation-wide side events.GreenID_Publications

The Renewable Energy Week Vietnam 2016 was supported by GreenID Vietnam, a Vietnamese non-profit organization established under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA).

GreenID’s main objective is to promote sustainable development in Vietnam and the larger Mekong region. Among many other projects and activities GreenID Vietnam is supporting and managing the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Association.

The first half of the event week was focusing on sustainable development in the Mekong region. Consequently, the workshops took place in Can Tho right in the heart of the Vietnamese Mekong delta. The opening workshop focused on National Renewable Energy Strategy and Security and Sustainable Development Strategy in the Mekong Delta with presentations by WWF, the DRAGON Institute, GreenID as well as representatives from Bac Lieu province.


Further workshops explored renewable energy opportunities for off-grid and remote areas in Vietnam. Local expert Dr. Ha Duong Minh from CleanED at the University of Science and Technology Hanoi (USTH) presented renewable micro-grid solutions to supply remote areas and German expert Gerd Ebbinghaus presented a case study and mission report on a renewable energy community project in An Giang province.

Further projects and local renewable energy strategies were presented by official representatives from different provinces such as Can Tho, Long An, An Giang and Ca Mau. One example was the long-running biogas project of SVN Vietnam that has already supported investments in more than 160,000 small-size biogas plants across 53 provinces in Vietnam.

The second day of Can Tho saw further project related presentations on renewable energy and energy efficiency on the national and local level. Mr. Antoine Vander Elst of the Delegation of the European Union presented the EU Support Programme to Sustainable Energy in Vietnam which also includes a project based support for civil society organizations and local authorities.


RB Renewable Energy consulting presented results of the GIZ-PDP PV Rooftop Investment Opportunities in Vietnam study that has been conducted from March to October 2016 and includes six case studies for commercial/industrial PV rooftop investments in Central and South Vietnam.

The study identifies attractive investment opportunities in particular for self-consumption business model PV applications for commercial and industrial operations in Vietnam. Those operations pay above average electricity tariffs with day-time peak tariffs of up to 18USct/kWh. Different investment scenarios show equity payback times of 6-8 years for PV rooftop investments in case of good framework conditions.

VuPhong_standA Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development Solutions Expo rounded up the agenda. Various renewable energy companies as well as development organizations presented their technical solutions and projects.

The second half of the Renewable Energy Week Vietnam took place in Hanoi with most of the agenda identical to the one in Can Tho but here attracting a different audience with representatives from the capital’s central government and international cooperation organizations as well as scientific institutions.

Additions to the Hanoi agenda were e.g. the presentation of Koos Nefjes on UNDP Vietnam‘s policy work on Greening the Power Mix or the presentation on Social Benefits of Renewable Energies by Dr. Sebastian Helgenberger of IASS Potsdam.

All presentations of the First Renewable Energy Week Vietnam 2016 can be downloaded here (googledrive):

A short video of the event can be found on YouTube.

If you are interested in the work of GreenID please see their GreenID Annual Report as well as their latest Report on Air Quality in Vietnam.