Nationwide blackouts planned

It’s boiling: A man using an umbrella to stay cool in Hanoi in this file picture as Vietnam recorded a temperature of 44.1ºC earlier this month. — AFP

VIETNAM began planned nationwide blackouts as the country struggles to meet surging power demand amid extreme hot weather.

The rolling disruptions to electricity supply will spread to areas across most of the country – including the capital Hanoi – and could continue until the end of the month, according to notices issued by local units of state-run utility Vietnam Electricity Group.

Outages will last up to seven hours in some areas, the notices said.

Vietnam is facing power shortages in some areas through May 25 because of rising electricity consumption due to a severe heatwave and as an ongoing drought has reduced water levels in hydropower reservoirs, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said on Thursday.

Parts of Asia have been hit by sizzling temperatures over the last few weeks and face further impacts from an emerging El Nino weather pattern, which typically brings hotter and drier weather to the continent.

Many countries are also still grappling with the fallout from last year’s spike in energy prices, making them more susceptible to surges in demand.

Chinh’s government has called on state-owned coal miners and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to work to ensure power plants have sufficient fuel.

The leader has also asked the state utility to negotiate temporary purchase prices with completed wind and power projects that are ready to link to the national grid.

Power plants using imported coal are facing fuel shortages because of slow imports from Indonesia. — Bloomberg

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