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Solar Power Starts Growing in Vietnam

Vietnam Goes Big on Solar Power

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Solar power is making a strong showing in Vietnam after years of shuttling from one extreme to the other. Pixabay

Solar power is making a strong showing in Vietnam after years of shuttling from one extreme to the other, with the nation looking sometimes like it would revert to coal, and other times like it would invest in renewable energy.

By the end of last year Vietnam had surpassed Malaysia and Thailand to reach the largest installed capacity of solar power in Southeast Asia, with 44% of the total capacity, according to figures from Wood Mackenzie, a firm that sells consulting services in the energy industry.

The figures show that Vietnam is serious about solar power, an issue that had been up for debate for years. Solar supporters were encouraged to see the government offer a high feed in tariff (FIT), a fee pioneered in Germany to let solar panel owners sell power to the grid. This helped push Vietnam to reach 5.5 gigawatts of solar capacity last year.

Vietnam is also planning to construct more power plants fed with coal, casting doubt on the goal of more clean energy. Public resistance to coal appears to have shelved some of the construction, at least for now.

Solar Power
Solar power installation near a wind turbine at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam’s Binh Thuan province. Pixabay

“FITs have proven to be an effective policy tool to induce rapid growth in renewables, and Vietnam’s build is another example of that,” Rishab Shrestha, a solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said. He added that “project economics will continue to remain attractive in large parts of Vietnam.”

Like other nations, Vietnam has yet to deal with some of the potential drawbacks of solar power, such as how to dispose of photo voltaic panels responsibly. The panels contain toxic chemicals like lead and cannot be recycled easily.

However solar and other renewable power, such as from wind, remains one of the cleanest options for Vietnam at the moment. It joins a growing global trend, from California, which enacted a law this year to require all new homes come with solar panels, to India, where railways are switching to solar power.

Next, Vietnam will have to decide how much it will pay for solar power. The tariff used to be more than nine U.S. cents per kilowatt hour but that price expired in June. Investors are waiting on a decision, which is being jointly prepared by three ministries, the Office of the Government, and the state power utility, according to Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, a law firm that advises clients on solar power. As part of the process, Vietnam Electricity, the state utility, sent a letter to the trade ministry with recommendations on how to set the tariff and who would be eligible.

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“The submission letter is not very clear,” said Oliver Massmann, general director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, in a blog post.

However he predicts that the government will settle on a tariff of just over seven U.S. cents per kilowatt hour for ground-mounted solar power projects, and a slightly higher tariff for floating solar power projects. Vietnam is pushing investors to provide power more affordably as consumption needs rise in the fast-growing economy. (VOA)

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Durian and Jackfruit Waste Can be Used to Create Energy: Study

Durian and jackfruit waste can be used to create energy stores for rapid electricity charging

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Researchers have done just that and developed a method that uses durian and jackfruit waste to create energy stores for rapid electricity charging. Pixabay

Imagine if we could use plants and fruit, to store electricity that charges commonly used electronics like mobile phones or even electric cars? Researchers have done just that and developed a method that uses durian and jackfruit waste to create energy stores for rapid electricity charging.

In the study, published in the Journal of Energy Storage, the research team explaind how they managed to turn the tropical fruits into super-capacitors.

Super-capacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds. “Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently,” said study researcherr Vincent Gomes, Associate Professor at University of Sydney in Australia.

“Using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruit’s biomass, the durian and jackfruit were transformed into stable carbon aerogels — an extremely light and porous synthetic material used for a range of applications,” Gomes added.

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Durian and jackfruit waste was selected based on the excellent template nature provides for making porous aerogels. Pixabay

“Carbon aerogels make great super-capacitors because they are highly porous. We then used the fruit-derived aerogels to make electrodes which we tested for their energy storage properties, which we found to be exceptional,” Gomes explained.

According to the researchers, compared to batteries, super-capacitors are not only able to charge devices very quickly but also in orders of magnitude greater charging cycles than conventional devices. Current super-capacitors are made from activated carbon which are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project, they said.

Explaining why they picked durian and jack fruit, Gomes said: “Durian waste was selected based on the excellent template nature provides for making porous aerogels. The durian and jackfruit super-capacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene-based materials, according to the study.

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“Durian waste, as a zero-cost substance that the community wants to get rid of urgently due to its repulsive, nauseous smell, is a sustainable source that can transform the waste into a product to substantially reduce the cost of energy storage through our chemical-free, green synthesis protocol,” Gomes said. (IANS)