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Hanoi 2010: Dams and Sustainable Water Resources Development

By Pham Hong Giang

The International Commission on Large Dams' 78th Annual Meeting, to be held May 23-26, 2010, in Hanoi, Vietnam, brings together dam experts from throughout the world to exchange knowledge and experiences. Such information exchange is vital to ensure efficient use and development of dams and hydroelectric generating facilities.

The International Commission on Large Dams' (ICOLD) 78th Annual Meeting provides dam engineering professionals with multiple opportunities to learn about the challenges facing the profession today and to gather the latest technical information. The annual meeting will be held May 23-26, 2010, in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. In addition, after the annual meeting, delegates can take part in one or more of six study tours featuring visits to dams under construction and dams that have been operating for decades.

Dams in Vietnam

Vietnam is located in southeastern Asia and has a population of 86 million. The country has a mountainous topography and tropical monsoon climate, both affecting the quantity and distribution of water. The mountainous landscape (three quarters of the country is mountains and hills) offers substantial potential for hydropower and water storage but also promotes rapid flooding and soil erosion during the rainy seasons. Vietnam has a mean annual rainfall of 2,000 millimeters, 70 percent of this in the three months that make up the rainy season. Flooding causes heavy inundation of alluvial plains and deltas, where most of the country's big cities and important economic centers are located. During the dry seasons, water shortages and serious drought threaten the water supply and living conditions of millions of people. Construction of dams and multipurpose reservoirs is of major importance to Vietnam's strategy for flood control, power generation, irrigation, and water supply.

Currently, Vietnam is experiencing significant growth in both its economy and its electricity production. In 2002, Vietnam had a total electricity generating capacity of 8,300 MW and generated 34.5 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity. In 2006, generating capacity was 14,420 MW and production was 81.3 million MWh.

And the growth is continuing. The country has a plan for electric power development up to 2015. Under this plan, electric generating capacity of 59,144 MW is needed to satisfy demand. Of this, 15,315 MW must come from hydro plants. However, it is likely the hydro share will decrease in the future because of the number of new projects based on gas. Vietnam is quite rich in gas resources.

There are about 20 hydroelectric projects currently operating in Vietnam, with a total capacity of more than 5,600 MW. The oldest of these began operating in 1984.

As hydroelectric generation in Vietnam is fairly recent (in the past 25 years), there is significant untapped potential in the country. There are about 60 hydro projects under construction in the country, which will add a total of more than 8,900 MW of capacity when completed. And about 75 projects are proposed for development, with a total capacity of more than 10,100 MW.

Exchanging information

Hanoi 2010 offers delegates four forums to exchange and disseminate technical information.

The first opportunity for information sharing is during a one-day symposium on Tuesday, May 25. The theme is "Dams and Sustainable Water Resources Development." As of November 6, 2009 (the most recent information available), 127 abstracts had been accepted for the symposium. Table 1 lists the 19 areas of focus for the symposium.

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Ham Thuan Dam on the La Nga River in Vietnam impounds water for a 300-MW hydroelectric project. Construction of this facility was completed in 2001.

During Hanoi 2010, a four-day technical exhibition (May 23-26) showcases advanced technologies, the latest innovations, and recent achievements in dam construction and management, water resources development, hydropower, and more. The exhibition is an opportunity to network with engineers, professionals, organizations, and companies connected with the design, maintenance, and management of dams. Products and services to be showcased during the exhibition include water resources management, construction, fabrication and erection of electrical and mechanical equipment, maintenance, engineering, power plant design, project finance, and much more. As of the beginning of February 2010, 19 companies were scheduled to exhibit at the conference.

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The 1,920-MW Hoa Binh powerhouse on the Da River in Vietnam contains eight turbines and provides more than 8 million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. Construction of this facility was completed in 1994.

A less formal, but equally valuable, opportunity is the meetings of the ICOLD technical committees. These meetings will take place Monday, May24. At these meetings, committee members discuss various topics that could lead to the publication of future specialized technical bulletins. Topics to be discussed include the technical, environmental, financial, and educational aspects of dam design, construction, maintenance, and operation. Delegates are welcome to participate as "observers" at these meetings, which provide a valuable opportunity to learn the important issues facing leaders in the dam industry.

Finally, Hanoi 2010 offers delegates six technical tour opportunities, during which they will visit both dams under construction and those that have been operating for decades. The technical tours, planned after the annual meeting, let delegates learn the technical features of dams in Vietnam. All of the tours are multi-day events. For details on each tour, visit the website: www.vncold.vn/ICOLD2010.

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On the technical tours, delegates will visit a variety of hydro projects operating and under construction, including 400-MW Tri An on the Dong Nai River in southwest Vietnam. This plant, which was completed in 1991, produces 1.7 million MWh of electricity each year.

Another hydropower facility on the technical tours is 1,920-MW Hoa Binh Dam on the Da River, west of Hanoi in northern Vietnam. This 128-meter-high rockfill dam was completed in 1994. The powerhouse contains eight turbines and provides more than 8 MWh of electricity each year. The project currently is undergoing refurbishment work, including instrumentation modernization.

Delegates of one technical tour will visit the complex of the Ham Thuan-Da Mi hydro plants on the La Nga River. The Ham Thuan plant has a capacity of 300 MW and was completed in 2001. The Da Mi plant, 10 kilometers downstream from Ham Thuan, has a capacity of 175 MW and also was completed in 2001.

The 53-meter-high Dinh Binh Dam is the first roller-compacted-concrete (RCC) dam built in Vietnam, in 2007. This dam was built to supply water storage and irrigation, as well as to impound water for a 6.6-MW hydro plant.

In addition to currently operating projects, delegates have the opportunity to visit several hydro facilities under construction. For example, construction of 2,400-MW Son La, also on the Da River, began in 2005. The project is expected to begin operating in 2010, with full operation scheduled for 2012. At that time, Son La will provide more than 9 million MWh of electricity. The roller-compacted-concrete (RCC) dam is the biggest dam in Vietnam at a height of 138 meters.

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Construction is proceeding on the 2,400-MW Son La project on the Da River in Vietnam. This work began in 2005, and the project should be fully operational in 2012.

And Cua Dat Dam, currently under construction on the Chu River southwest of Hanoi, will provide water storage and electricity generation. When completed in 2010, 118-meter-high Cua Dat will be the highest rockfill dam with a concrete face in Vietnam. The powerhouse will have a capacity of 97 MW.

The technical tours also take delegates to several dams that do not impound water for hydroelectric generation. One of these non-hydro dams is Thao Long in the Huong River Delta. The 481-meter-long dam was built to protect the Huong River from salt penetration, which was needed to provide fresh water for agricultural and industrial use. Two other non-hydro dams included are Phu Ning, an earthfill dam built to provide water for irrigation, water supply, and flood control, and Nui Coc, an earthfill dam built on the Cong River to provide water storage.

— To register for Hanoi 2010, visit the Internet: www.vncold.vn/ICOLD2010. Online registration is available, or a pdf form can be downloaded and returned by mail or fax.

Pham Hong Giang, PhD, is chairman of the Vietnam National Committee on Large Dams and Water Resources Development, which is hosting the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) annual meeting, known as ICOLD Hanoi 2010.

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