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Daring exploit: North-South 500kV super high-voltage transmission line

VGP – The North-South 500kV high-voltage transmission was officially put into operation on May 27, 1994, marking a historic turning point in the history of Viet Nam’s power sector.

07/30/2019 10:23

In early 1990s, the Southern region faced serious power shortage while power output was redundant in the North.

At a meeting with leaders of the Ministry of Energy during in early 1991, former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet raised a question on how to transmit power from the North to the South, recalled former Minister of Energy Vu Ngoc Hai.

“The only way is to build a high-voltage transmission line”, Hai replied to the Government chief at a time when the country was still facing mountain of difficulties.

Former Prime Minister Kiet issued an “ultimatum” that the transmission line must be completed within two years and tasked Hai to give answer after three days.

In order to build the North-South 500kV super-high-voltage transmission line, various solutions were set out in detail, in which, preparing the construction progress, arranging personnel from design survey, construction, supervision, capital arrangement, contract signing, procurement of equipment and materials are strictly and reasonably implemented with a spirit of urgency.

Construction of the 1,500 km-long transmission line finally began on April 5, 1992 amid numerous difficulties, including financial resources.

The power sector had to mobilized 43,000 people from power, construction, defense and transport sectors as well as uncountable number of local residents to carry out the project.

Hai said the Ministry had contacted with experts from Russia, Israel, Canada and Belgium but local engineers and workers played the key role throughout the construction process.

At that time, no country could build such a long transmission line just within two year. The longest transmission line was only 700-800km in length and construction time lasted 7-8 years.

The project was divided into 4 sections of construction, each of them was undertaken by an electricity construction company. Of the four sections, the most difficult part was the second one, running from Ha Tinh to Kon Tum with a length of over 600km, including about 400km of hills, jungles and many complicated rivers and stream, etc., undertaken by Electricity Construction Company No. 3. In many briefings, considering construction progress, Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet said that “If the section constructed by Electricity Construction Company No. 3 is completed, the whole transmission line will be completed.”

Construction involved in installing and erecting 3,600 steel pillars, equivalent to 60,000 tons of electric poles; pulling 1,487km of wires and lightning conductors, equivalent to 23,000 tons of conductors and 930 tons of lightning conductors; constructing 22 fiber optic repeating stations, 19 lines operating points; and placing 280,000 m­­3 of concrete foundation with 23,000 tons of reinforcement.

In order to solve the capital for this important project, the Project Management Board regularly worked with departments of the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance, and the State Treasury, creating a favorable mechanism for adequate and timely allocation of capital. Every week, the Ministry of Energy organized briefings and inspection on the construction progress, promptly removing difficulties in construction, particularly, there were many meetings directly attended and directed by the Prime Minister for timely and absolutely handling all difficulties and obstacles arising during the construction.

The final investment capital reached VND 5,713 billion, or VND 500 billion lower than the preset estimates, according to Hai.

Indeed, the official operation of the North-South 500kV transmision line is like a fairy tale, demonstrating the extraordinary might of the Vietnamese people./.

By Quang Minh