Plastic buckets, broken printers shine light on Hanoi's poor


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Vietnamese families living in slums along the Red River in Hanoi are using red plastic buckets and old printers to help light homes, cook meals and slash electricity costs by as much as a third.
The recycled goods form the blades and motors of electrical generators that power old motorcycle batteries to illuminate lamps with a brightness equivalent to a 45-Watt light bulb.
Though the output generated is small, it makes a significant difference for families previously denied power because they lived too far from a power station or had to ration supply because of the expense, at an average cost of $9 a month.
"It is enough to light the home of my family and other families around here," said Bui Van Ha, who earns about $4.50 a day on average by trading pottery to feed his family of four.
"Even for only a few hours after dark, it helped us to save on our monthly spending and bring profit to my family."
The clean energy innovation on the floating village about 5 km (3 miles) from Hanoi's central business district is the brainchild of Le Vu Cuong, a lecturer at a Hanoi university.
His wind-powered generator makes use of materials that are cheap and easy to replace and works with a wind speed of just 0.4 metres (1.3 ft) a second.
"We want to support the low-income community," Cuong told Reuters. "Now they can use more electricity without any extra costs, with energy coming from renewable sources."
Vietnam produces just 140 MW of solar and wind power each year, but officials say it has the capacity to produce 500 times more.
Cuong hopes to boost energy production, and is looking for donors to help lighten the electricity costs of other low-income families.

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