Construction permit for rooftop solar power projects in Vietnam

Construction permit for rooftop solar power projects

Decision No. 13/2020/QD-TTg on the incentive mechanism for solar power in Vietnam and the National Power Development Plan for the period 2021 – 2030, vision to 2050 (Power Plan VIII) has attracted wide attention of domestic and foreign investors for rooftop solar power (“RSP”) projects in Vietnam. However, the actual installation of RSP systems still has many legal obstacles related to a construction permit (“CP”) for these projects.

In this article, BLawyers Vietnam will present some issues to note about the CP of RSP projects in Vietnam.

1. Conditions for obtaining a CP

By law, RSP is considered as a construction building under the prevailing Law on Construction. Thus, the RSP project’s investors must obtain the CP before proceeding with the installation, except for some construction projects that are exempt from CP.

In addition, the installation and construction of solar power systems need to ensure full compliance with construction investment procedures on project formulation, appraisal and approval, design, requirements on electrical safety, construction safety, environment, explosion prevention and control in accordance with law.

In the case of installing an RSP system on existing buildings, it will significantly increase the load and affect the bearing capacity of the existing building. Therefore, investors need to supplement the content of detailed assessment of the status of the project (quality, use status, ability to ensure safety, etc.,) of the inspection consultant meeting the required capacity conditions when requesting the competent agency to grant CP.

Depending on the condition of the construction work when installing the RSP, the investor must obtain the following corresponding permits:

  1. Issuance of a new CP: in case of a completely new construction project, including the installation of the RSP project, or a project that has not yet started but the extension period of the CP expires.
  2. Issuance of CP for repair and renovation: in case the RSP project is installed on existing works that have been and are being exploited and used, which changes the structure and affects the safety of load-bearing structures.
  3. Exemption from CP: RSP’s system with a capacity of not more than 01 MW belongs to grade IV projects.
  • For new construction works: in case the RSP is built in rural areas without urban planning, functional area construction planning or detailed planning for rural residential point construction approved by competent state agencies, or built in mountainous or island areas in areas where there is no urban planning or functional area construction planning, this work is exempt from CP.
  • For repair and renovation works: if the installation of the RSP on the roof of an existing building in use does not change the usability, does not affect the safety of the load-bearing structure of that project and conforms to the construction planning approved by a competent state agency, requirements on fire and explosion prevention and safety and environmental protection, this project is exempt from CP.

Investors need to check with the provincial Department of Construction or the district-level People’s Committee to determine whether the project needs to apply for the CP or not. After being granted the CP, the investor must notify at least 03 working days in advance from the date of commencement of construction work, including the case of exemption from CP.

2. Application dossier for CPs for RSP project
  1. For new projects or works, application dossier for the CP includes the following main documents:
    • Application for the CP;
    • Documents proving land use rights in accordance with the land law of the work group or the whole project;
    • Decision approving the project; written notice of appraisal results of specialized construction agencies and dossiers of basic design drawings stamped with accompanying certification seals (if any); report on results of construction design verification; certificate of design approval for fire prevention and fighting and documents, accompanying appraised drawings; written results of implementation of environmental protection procedures in case of failure to appraise construction investment feasibility study report at specialized construction agencies;
    • Construction design drawings in the construction design dossier implemented after the basic design are approved in accordance with law.
  2. For repair and renovation works (i.e., existing works that are being exploited and used, install more RSP systems):
    • Application for the CP to repair or renovate the work;
    • Copies of papers proving the ownership, management and use of works and houses in accordance with law; and
    • Drawings and photographs of the current status of parts, work items, individual houses proposed to be renovated.
3. Competence to issue CPs for RSP projects

Currently, the law has not had specific regulations on the competence to issue CPs for RSP projects. Referring to Decision No. 03/2022/QD-UBND of Binh Duong Province, the competence to grant CPs for the RSP system is divided into the following 03 cases:

  1. For RSP projects mounted on the roofs of existing individual residential buildings: the authority to grant and evaluate and certify CPs belongs to the district-level People’s Committee.
  2. For RSP projects mounted on the roof of existing farms (livestock farms, crop farms, etc.,): the authority to grant and evaluate and certify CPs belongs to the Department of Construction or the district-level People’s Committee.
  3. For RSP projects mounted on the roofs of existing industrial buildings, civil works, technical infrastructure works and other agricultural works: the authority to grant and evaluate and certify CPs belongs to the Department of Construction, the Management Board of Industrial Parks or the district-level People’s Committee.

Currently, the guidance documents of specialized management agencies on construction and issuance of CPs for RSP systems are still inconsistent. Therefore, investors also need to pay attention to the regulatory documents in the locality where the project is built to ensure legal documents and requirements for the RSP construction project.

The above is not official advice from BLawyers Vietnam. If you have any questions or suggestions about the above, please contact us at consult@blawyersvn.com. We would love to hear from you.

Date: 28 March 2024

Writer: BLawyers Vietnam

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