Eleven hydropower plants in northern Vietnam have shut down due to lack of water, summarily taking 5,000 megawatts out of the grid.
They include some of the countries’ largest plants such as Son La, Lai Chau and Thac Ba.
Thac Ba in Yen Bai Province has 45.65 meters of water, 0.5 meters below the dead storage level.
The plant has shut down two of its three turbines since June 1, the first time in its 52-year existence something like this has occurred.
If the water level goes below 45 meters, the third turbine will also be shut down.
Nguyen Manh Cuong, deputy director of the plant, said the water level is 40% less than normal, and in past years water flows were 10 times higher.
The third turbine is now operating at the minimum level and risks fractures if the water recedes further, and so technicians are now on 24/7 duty to monitor it, he added.
The plant’s output in May was a mere two million kilowatt-hours, 90% lower than a year earlier.
The current power supply in the north (including imports) is now 40.8% below installed capacity, according to Tran Viet Hoa, head of the Electricity Regulatory Authority.
The region thus has a shortfall of 30.9 million kilowatt-hours of power a day, rising to 50.8 million kWh on days when demand is high, he added.
In the last few weeks state-owned utility Vietnam Electricity has been cutting power in some northern locations, including in Hanoi.
On Thursday it instructed its northern division to limit load shedding residential areas to eight hours at a time.