Farmers from a hamlet in Thai Binh Province have abandoned the habit of burning straw after their rice harvest and begun composting it for fertilizer – one early success of a project to encourage sustainable growth in Vietnam.
The project, conducted by the Hanoi-based NGO Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID) and the Energy Alliance, is one of the efforts to promote effective energy consumption and reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuel.
“Demands for sustainable energy development have become an emergency issue in Vietnam and other countries worldwide,” said Nguyen Thi Hang, a project official at GreenID, during a conference on the project in Hanoi on Tuesday.
Hang said that since 2012, GreenID as a member of the Energy Alliance launched a trial project for local energy planning in Bac Hai and Nam Cuong communes in Thai Binh Province.
“The project has brought preliminary results including the use of biomass, solar water heating, generating electricity from solid waste and solar energy,” she said.
The project was expanded to the provinces of Nam Dinh, Thua Thien-Hue and Ca Mau in the northern, central and southern regions respectively.
According to Ngo Duc Lam, former deputy director of the Vietnam Energy Institute, energy development in Vietnam has failed to keep pace with development, prompting emergency demand for renewable energy.
“The government of Vietnam has acknowledged this emergency need. But there have been few results in dealing with the problem,” he said.
According to Lam, Vietnam will require 112 tons of coal for generating electricity in 2020 but its planned capacity is just 60-65 tons.
In 2015, Vietnam will need 200 billion kilowatts of electricity and 350 billion kilowatts in 2020. By then, 48 percent of its grid will depend on coal, 25 percent on hydropower plants and 16.5 percent on gas.
Renewable energy sources are expected to make up just 5.6 percent of the grid.
Jakob Jespersen, international coordinator of the Danish NGO Sustainable Energy, said Vietnam has major sustainable energy resources that have not been effectively used.
“For example, you have a huge source of solid waste. It’s not only about generating energy from solid waste but also about getting rid of a huge problem,” he said.
Other sources include biomass, solar water heating, solar power and wind power, he said.
Lam, the former deputy director of Vietnam Energy Institute, said this community-based model will prove ideal for Vietnam's development because it allows each locality to tailor its projects to their needs and conditions.