Floods and floods: Hydropower not a "crime" but it needs strict management

VCN- Every rainy season, the problem of managing and operating hydropower projects heats up when hydroelectricity is often questioned as a "crime" that causes floods. Many experts affirmed that hydropower is not the cause of floods and the key is to strictly manage the construction and operation of hydropower projects, especially duringthe flood discharge of hydropower reservoirs.
Hydropower projects on Mekong River should not cause negative impacts: spokeswoman Hydropower projects on Mekong River should not cause negative impacts: spokeswoman
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Big hydroelectric plants have solved the problem of flood cut off and regulation to supply water for the drought season. Source: Internet.

Eliminated nearly 500 small hydropower projects

According to the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy (Ministry of Industry and Trade), the national power system, hydropower projects in operation account for about 40% of installed capacity and 37% in terms of electricity, making an important contribution to ensuring energy security.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has checked and reviewed hydropower projects in the spirit of Resolution 62/2013/QH13 on strengthening the management of planning, construction investment, operation and the exploitation of hydropower projects. As a result of continuous review for eightconsecutive years (from 2012-2019), the Ministry of Industry and Trade has workedwith the People's Committees of provinces to consider removing from the planning of eight terraced hydropower projects, 471 small hydropower projects and 213 locations of hydroelectricity.

One very interesting part of hydropower development is that the construction of hydroelectricity affects the ​​natural forest. Investors have to implement replanting of forests lost due to hydropower projects. According to statistics of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), as of September 2019, after reviewing, hydropower projects occupied about 30,305 hectares of forests nationwide. The area planted to compensate forests is 33,735 ha, reaching 111.3% of the area to be planted in hydropower projects in the country.

Do DucQuan, Deputy Director of the Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy, said that from 2011 until now, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has requested People's Committees of provinces to conduct annual reviews of hydropower projects. In 2013, there was a scale review when the ministry went to each province to review. During the review process, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued warnings on the impacts to the water environment, the extent of forest land acquisition and sent them to localities to review. In recent times, warnings have been mainly related to rice land, protective forest land, and natural forest land.

“As for natural forest land, since 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has advised provinces not include it in the planning. With protection forests, there must be a resolution of the People's Council that agrees on the policy of converting protection forests that we put into planning, but this number is not much. All requirements given by the Ministry of Industry and Trade are to minimiseforest land, from production forest land to protection forest land, especially natural forest land is absolutely not implementing investment policy,”Quan said.

Tightly managing investment in hydropower projects

Over the years the important role of hydroelectricity in the national power system has been undeniable. However, before and during each rainy and flooding season, the question of whether hydroelectricity causes floods is the "crime" of hydroelectricity that makes people debate.

Energy expert Nguyen Thanh Son analysed: “Since the time of Tan Thuy Hoang, China has ruled water by digging lakes. Nowadays, in addition to irrigation lakes, there are also hydroelectric lakes, so hydroelectric lakes are beneficial. I get frustrated when someone says hydroelectricity causes floods.:

Affirming floods are not caused by hydroelectricity, this expert paid special attention to the aspect of human regulation. “In some cases, floods come when it has not rained yet because of regulations. There are cases where the lake is not full andlocal discharge requests. The locality should know when the flood peak should be discharged. If the flood has not yet reached the peak, it will inevitably affect downstream,” Son said.

During the operation of hydropower reservoirs, not all investors and localities fulfill their responsibilities. In arecent report answering questions in the field of industry and trade sent to the National Assembly, the Government named a number of hydropower projects that do not comply with regulations. Typically, after an unexpected inspection of the DakKar hydropower project, the Ministry of Industry and Trade made a record of administrative violations in natural disaster prevention for the investor of the construction of the DakKar hydropower project and transferred Chairman of the People's Committee of DakNong province shall handle according to his competence. After inspecting the operation of Su Pan 1 hydropower reservoir, the Ministry of Industry and Trade workedwith Lao Cai Department of Industry and Trade to make a record of administrative violations and the inspector of the Lao Cai Department of Industry and Trade issued a decision to sanction administrative violations in electricity, hydropower dam safety, economical and efficient use of energy for the investor of the construction of Su Pan 1 hydropower project with a fine of 120 million VND.

The reason is that, during the flood season in 2019, when particularly large floods occurred, the reservoir water level roserapidly, risking dam safety. Su Pan 1 didnot notifyor warn authorities and people in the downstream area in time to respond to floods in the downstream area.

Energy expert Nguyen ManhHien, former director of the Vietnam Institute of Energy, also assessed that in previous years there was a situation where hydroelectric dams were broken, causing floods, but there were not many serious consequences. This year, the flood discharge has left many serious consequences. Wheninvesting in hydropower projects, the State needs better management and policy andstrict regulations on environmental protection, population andworks around hydroelectric dams.

Whirling deep into the investment of small hydropower projects, this expert analysed, when building small hydropower projects, there are many risks. These projects were not inspected by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but inspected by local authorities; so many works had serious consequences after being put into operation. In addition, many construction companies do not care about quality, but only about the profits earned from electricity, forest wood andprecious metals during construction.

“To ensure safety, when building small hydropower projects, the State should have clearer and tightened regulations on management andespecially should not develop too many small hydroelectricity plants when they arenot needed, but it is necessary to have stricter policies to ensure technical safety, to ensure safety for downstream areas as well as surrounding residential areas,"Hien said.

By Thanh Nguyen/ HuuTuc

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