|Winding up: A wind-power generator being built inBac Lieu City in southern Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Huynh Su
A new wind-power generator offers an alternative to the national power grid, which experiences frequent blackouts and is expensive for people living in rural areas to access. Nguyen Thanh Ha reports.
Ho Van Hung from the central province of Thua Thien-Hue's A Luoi District is interested in a wind-power generator developed by engineer Dang Hong Quang in HCM City.
"It provides us with regular light at an affordable price compared with power from the national network, which is often turned off, " said Hung. He said many of his neighbours also planned to ask Quang to install a similar generator.
Hung said he used wind-power to operate television to entertain his family members, including his 90-year-old father and his elderly friends.
"We can now watch TV, which helps us to learn many things about our country and the world. Although we live in a remote area, we can stay up to date," Hung said.
Generator developer Quang is a writer with a big passion for electricity and electronics. "Apart from composing short stories, I am interested in creating wind power. Many of my relatives in rural and remote areas have difficulty accessing national electricity, which is very expensive and often cut off. That's why I thought I would try to install generators," Quang told Viet Nam News.
Quang said he spent two years studying generators on the internet. He had many failures before finishing his first generator in 2008.
Quang's design is a variation on an old theme. The blades that turn the cogs that turn the motor are fitted into an eight-metre high cylindrical frame. They catch even the weakest breeze.
"To cut costs and simplify the work, I used corrugated iron to make the blades and a frame. The most expensive part was a dynamo generator worth VND1.5 million," said Quang.
He said his generator could provide up to 1-2kWh of power a day, enough to supply one household. "Recently, I installed a combined wind generator with solar panels so households in less windy areas can have power," said Quang.
|Winds of change: People and soldiers on the Truong Sa (Spratly) islands now have access to electricity thanks to wind power. — VNA/VNS Photo Ho Cau
He said he had installed dozens of generators for people in remote and isolated areas - always at cost price.
Asked why he didn't make a profit and go into business, Quang said: "I'm retired. I have plenty of time to spare and am ready to help households get their own power supply. I'm now installing a generator for a family in the southern province of Binh Duong."
Quang has won several prizes in HCM City for his work in turning on the light for people in inaccessible areas. And even academics are turning to him.
Ha Minh Tung, deputy head of the energy department at HCM City Technology University, said the university would co-operate with Quang to produce cheap wind-power generators for needy households.
Like Quang, Tran Thanh Thanh from the southern province of Ben Tre's Binh Thoi Commune has built dozens of wind generators. Thanh's invention won a Young Inventors Prize from the Central Commitee of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union in 2011.
"I thought again and again about the contest and decided to make a wind generator because my home is close to the coast, had lots of wind - but lacks electricity," said Thanh.
He has collected scrap iron to make the blades and repaired a turbine from an old electric bicycle. "I faced many failures." he said. "My wife said I would become ill if I had too many sleepless nights after working all day as a truck driver.
"After a year or more, my efforts paid off. I finished my mill which supplies my home with power for lighting and runing a refrigerator," said Thanh.
Nguyen Anh Tuan from the Institute of Energy said Viet Nam had big potential for wind power because it had more than 3,200km of coastline.
|Sustainable energy: Costs for wind power are expected to drop dramatically as the technology becomes popular.
Dinh The Phuc, deputy head of the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Department for Regulating Electricity, said Viet Nam was running short of traditional energy. "If we don't quickly find other energy resources, such as wind and solar, we could face a severe shortage of electricity by 2030."
Statistics from the World Bank show that wind power could provide Viet Nam with about 513,360MW/year or 200 times that of the Son La Hydroelectricity Power Plant (2,400MW). But, Phuc said, the problem was that Viet Nam still did not have access to modern technology for producing wind power.
This was why wind power was still more expensive than conventional coal or hydro power, but costs are expected to drop dramatically as the technology becomes popular.
Phuc said Viet Nam did not have policies about developing renewable energy, including wind power, and paying for surplus energy transferred into the national grid.
He said more than 60 countries had subsidised the production of wind power. For example Denmark, which receives 30 per cent of its total national electricity from wind power, has policies to encourage this kind of energy.
The Danish government subsidises wind power until it reaches a break-even price.
Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai directed the Trade Ministry to suggest regulations to encourage wind-power projects in Viet Nam.
Hai urged the ministry to have policy to assist the purchasing price of wind power, taxes and land leases to help investors implement projects effectively. He also asked the ministry to set up a fund for renewable energy and environment protection to help generate wind-power resources.
|Easy, breezy: A wind turbine being built in Tuy Phong District, Binh Thuan Province. — VNA/VNS Photo
Several major wind-power projects have been completed in Viet Nam. They include a 120MW generator in the southern province of Binh Thuan and 16MW generator in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Bac Lieu.
Ho Son Hung, deputy director of Binh Thuan's Department for Trade and Industry, said the Viet Nam Renewable Energy Joint Stock Co was preparing procedures to start the second phase of the Binh Thuan project, which would have a total capacity of 90MW.
Hung said 13 investors had registered to build 16 wind-power projects in the province.
He said Binh Thuan had finished its plan for wind-power development until 2015 and vision 2020 to tap its wind-power potential of 5,000MW.
Meanwhile, Le Kim Hung director of the Ninh Thuan Province's Department for Science and Industry, said the province plans to install three modern wind-power generators imported from Russia by the end of this year in Loi Hai Commune, Thuan Bac District.
If the generators are a success, they are expected to be widely used in HCM City and some coastal provinces, said Hung. — VNS