05/30/2023, 17.30
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As Southeast Asia sizzles, Hanoi turns off public lighting to keep air conditioning going

Peak demand risks crashing the national power grid. The authorities asked industrial consumers to reduce operations during peak hours. Vietnam and its neighbours see record temperatures, up to 45 Celsius.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, local authorities have cut public lighting to avoid crashing the country’s power grid should air conditioning use increase under the current intense heat wave.

“It’s so harsh and hot outside that people have to wear protective clothing to cool down and not get burned,” said a 67-year-old Hanoi resident Trần Văn Hùng.

While temperatures this week are expected to range between 26 and 38 degrees Celsius, weather office warns that extreme heat could continue through June.

This is likely to boost demand for air conditioning, the country's largest utility company, Électricité du Vietnam (EVN)[*] warns, with the risk of excessive demand put on the national power grid.

To cope with the problem, the authorities in the capital are turning on public lighting half an hour later and turn it off half an hour earlier. In some streets and parks, the amount of public lighting has been halved.

"If people all save energy, all will have enough electricity to use, but if not, there will be a partial electrical overload that will put the power grid at risk," said Lương Minh Quân, an electrician with EVN in Hanoi.

Last week, the government urged people to turn off their electrical devices when not in use, and for air conditioning to be kept above 26 degrees C, while government offices were ordered to reduce electricity consumption by a tenth.

Local authorities are also trying to persuade industrial consumers to reduce activities at peak hours to ease pressure on the national grid. More than 11,000 companies have agreed so far to reduce consumption where possible.

Earlier this month, Vietnam reported its highest temperature ever recorded, 44.2 Celsius, in the northern district of Tương Dương.

Neighbouring Laos and Thailand also reported peaks of 43-45 degrees in April and May. 

According to some studies, due to climate change, heat waves will occur three to 10 times more often by the end of the century, while “extremely dangerous heat" (above 51 Celsius) is set to double in the most-at-risk area, namely the tropics, which covers much of Asia.

[*] In Vietnamese: Tập đoàn Điện lực Việt Nam.

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