Vietnam: 04 notes on construction permits for rooftop solar system installation

Implementing the encouragement for the development of solar energy in Vietnam pursuant to Decision No. 13/2020/QD-TTg (“Decision 13”), investors investing and installing rooftop solar photovoltaic systems (“RSS”) have had some concerns about construction permits. Currently, Vietnam still does not have a unified legal document about the construction permit for installing the RSS.

According to our practical experience, BLawyers Vietnam has 04 notes on the above issue as follows:

1. What construction procedures must investors conduct when installing the RSS?

Investors need to comply with procedures for formulating, appraising, and approving projects, designs, and grants of construction permits, and quality management of construction works in accordance with the law on investment, construction, protection environment, fire protection, and relevant legal regulations.

2. What is the type and grade of construction works of the RSS?

According to Circular No. 06/2021/TT-BXD, the RSS is an energy work of the industrial type.

According to Decision 13, the encouragement for the development of solar energy in Vietnam only applies for RSSs with a capacity of no more than 01 MW. Therefore, the RSS is entitled to the above-mentioned encouragement is a construction with grade IV.

3. What is the construction permit for installing RSS?

According to the current Construction Law, construction works must have a construction permit, except for cases as follows:

  1. Works undergoing repair, renovation of interior equipment or works undergoing repair and renovation to alter their external architecture not facing roads in urban centers subject to architecture management requirements according to regulations of competent State Agency; works undergoing repair, renovation which does not alter their force-bearing structure and utilities, comply with the requirements on planning, safety, environmental protection, fire, and explosion prevention and fighting, and national defense and security, which have been approved by competent state agency; or
  2. Grade IV construction works, separate houses in rural areas with a scale of fewer than seven floors and in areas without urban regulations or urban areas, planning for the construction of functional areas or detailed planning for the construction of residential quarters; the rural residence has been approved by the competent state agency.

Therefore, when installing the RSS on buildings, there are 02 more issues including:

  1. Safety of force-bearing structure of the construction when installing RSS: Even though being exempt from construction permits, investors must supplement the content of a detailed assessment of the current state of the works by the inspection consultancy unit that meets the required capacity conditions; and
  2. For constructions not eligible for construction permit exemption, investors must conduct the procedure of applying for a construction permit for the repair and renovation of the main construction.

However, if the main construction was previously built without permission or not in accordance with the planning, the RSS may also be denied the issuance of a construction permit.

4. Which State agency is competent to grant a construction permit for installing an RSS?

For RSS implementation on the roofs of warehouses and factories. The authority to grant, evaluate and confirm construction permits may belong to the Department of Construction or Industrial Park Management Board, or District People’s Committee, depending on the location of the warehouse or factory.

Of note, the information we mentioned above is for reference only and shall not apply to all similar cases.

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: 16 March 2023

Writers: Tinh Nguyen & Minh Ngo

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