Vietnam firms get serious about energy savings

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As power outages become more frequent, many enterprises are looking to use energy-saving technologies and products and experts say the trend is set to strengthen in the coming time.

Huynh Kim Tuoc, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Energy Conservation Center, said his agency provided consultancy packages costing from VND5 billion (US$260,000) to VND800 billion ($41 million) for hundreds of companies over the past three months.

He said saving power helps not only generate more profits for firms but also ease demand in the country.

Early this month, Electricity of Vietnam, the nation's power utility, said the country may fall short of power needs by 3-4 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) this year due to serious water shortages in major hydropower plant reservoirs.

Tuoc said with more and more businesses expressing interest energy-saving, he foresees the appearance of many energy services companies (ESCO) in Vietnam soon.

The ESCO is a business providing a broad range of comprehensive energy solutions including designs and implementation of energy savings and conservation, energy infrastructure outsourcing, power generation and energy supply, and risk management.

The Law on Energy Efficiency and Conservation, which became effective this year, will also encourage the development of ESCO, experts say.

The law requires labeling products using energy conservation technology to encourage production of such products and gradually eliminate outdated equipment, reducing energy consumption in production.

Bank loans

Partly private Techcombank has recently launched an offer under which enterprises can obtain loans of up to 70 percent of the value of their energy-saving projects at 15- 17 percent interest rates for a maximum term of seven years.

Earlier, VietinBank had coordinated with the Ministry of Science and Technology to carry out the Promotion of Energy Conservation in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (PECSME) project to lend to firms in brick-making, ceramics, paper, garment and textile and food processing sectors. Total loans have touched $14.1 million so far.

Vietnam saved more than 1.18 billion kWh of electricity last year, 42 percent more than its target, accounting for 1.4 percent of national output, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The country expects to save one billion kWh of power this year, or 1 percent of production, the Electricity of Vietnam said on January 4.

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