Solar energy/rare earths: Vietnam targets for solar energy and rare earth resources

photo-voltaic (PV) solar project

According to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vietnam plans to increase the electricity output produced by renewable sources from approximately 58 billion kWh in 2015 to 101 billion kWh by 2020 and 186 billion kWh by 2030. In line with its pursuit of new-energy technologies, the country is also looking to develop its rare earth resources.

Roskill view: Solar energy does not provide a significant end-use application for the rare earths suite, although they can be used in thin film photovoltaics. Rare earths are used widely, however, in the components of high-tech and new-energy applications, to increase performance and efficiency.

Vietnam is a major importer, exporter and processing centre for rare earth products. Vietnam hosts multiple rare earth deposits, concentrated in north western Vietnam near the border with China and along the eastern coastline. Vietnam is reported to host mineral reserves containing more than 17.2Mt REO (17Mt in primary ore deposits and 200kt contained within coastal placer deposits). A number of rare earth mining projects have been explored in Vietnam but only sporadic, negligible domestic production has been achieved in the past.