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Vietnam zooms in on solar energy development

Posted: 06 May 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar energy? Vietnam?

Vietnam plans to aggressively pursue initiatives in solar energy development, with a goal to initially raise the share of new and renewable energy to 8 per cent of the total power output by 2020. This number is expected to climb to 11 per cent by 2050.

Huynh Kim Tuoc, Director of the HCM City Energy Saving Center, said in a VNN report that the country sees a great prospect in solar energy, which roughly translates to 43.9 billion tonnes of oil equivalent. This is especially favourable since the central and southern regions in the country get more hours of sunshine with high-intensity solar radiation.

To further encourage the development, the government allotted about $47.57 to finance every solar energy machine utilised in big cities. This has thus given a lift to solar energy-based equipment market, scoring a 20 per cent annual growth rate.

Water heaters appears to be the widely used among solar-powered equipment, with 42,000 units of solar-powered water heaters in 2011, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade report mentioned by VNN.

In Ho Chi Minh City, where demand is particularly high, one out of two newly built houses equips solar water heater, summing up to 30,000 units per year. Some 90 companies trading solar energy-based products have even started exporting to the neighbouring markets of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

The market spike notwithstanding, several manufacturers were forced to leave the market. It was reported that in April 2011, the U.S. First Solar Group terminated its $1.2 billion project in the Dong Nam Industrial Zone in HCM City, just eight months after the project's launch. Another project in Thua Thien-Hue Province amounting to $300 million has also been recently cancelled by Worldtech JSC.

Analysts see a seemingly fierce competition that is taking a toll on local manufacturers who are having a hard time getting a bigger share of the market, VNN reported. This stems mainly from products that fall short in technology together with a production scale that make it tough to compete with imports.

The domestic solar industry engages mainly in assembly. Parts such as vacuum tubes and solar panels have to be sourced elsewherefrom China, Taiwan, and Malaysiabadly affecting local manufacturers.

But the government does not seem to mind. Phan Minh Tan, Director of the HCM City Science & Technology Department, said through VNN that Vietnam prioritises advanced technologies, suitable to Vietnam's conditions, regardless of whether they are Chinese, American or European.

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