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SolarBK addresses regional infrastructure conference

Released at: 10:50, 18/10/2018

SolarBK addresses regional infrastructure conference

Photo: SolarBK

Local solar panel provider attends roundtable held in Indonesia by IFC.

by Hong Nhung

The Bach Khoa Solar Energy Corporation (SolarBK) recently participated in the “Bridging the Infrastructure Gap and Powering Connectivity in Asia” roundtable conference organized by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where it discussed solar power in Vietnam in recent times. The roundtable was part of an annual conference held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) in Indonesia.

The annual conference gathered 12,000 to 15,000 attendees, including 3,500 delegates from 189 countries. There were 105 events held by the WB over the seven days, revolving around the issue of Asian microeconomic factors. The goal of the dialogue was to find ways to boost investment in infrastructure as well as highlight and replicate creative concepts in the region, in particular smart solutions for the climate and the environment.

According to an official IFC report, there are more than 400 million people still living with electricity shortages and more than 55 per cent of them do not have access to the internet. In addition, the Asian population is expected to double by 2030, which will potentially cause serious infrastructure shortages. Asia therefore needs to invest about $26 billion in infrastructure over the next 12 years. With the financial restrictions faced by many Asian governments, social investment will be key to providing high quality and more sustainable services.

Infrastructure problems in Vietnam

A representative from SolarBK told the roundtable about the current reality of developing renewable energy in Vietnam, which is to replace certain sources of energy such as thermal power and hydropower, which exhibit many inadequacies.

Before the encouragement policy for using solar power was introduced in 2017, SolarBK said this source of power was widely developed on Vietnam’s islands, where people cannot directly connect to the national power grid. One clean energy project it developed in 2008 supplied electricity to the entire 50 islands on the Truong Sa archipelago.

A lack of power is common on islands in Asia. Introducing electricity is the first step towards building other infrastructure such as telecommunications networks and the internet, which help improve local economies. SolarBK has also implemented a rooftop solar power market, especially in the household segment, to quickly help people access solar power and gain benefits.

Private figures from Ho Chi Minh City show that nearly 277,000 roofs qualify for solar power installation. Overall, the current market potential is up to 6,000 MWp. If the rooftop solar electricity market can be maximized, Vietnam will have a huge power supply, which is considered a foundation for the country’s economic development.

Financial solutions advance facilities development in Vietnam

According to a report from the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in 2017, development banks estimated that Vietnam requested between $16.7 billion and $25 billion to satisfy infrastructure demand in the 2016-2020 period. Based on an evaluation of industry research, it is believed that Vietnam will need about $20.2 billion per year. However, current spending is only half of this amount, resulting in a financing gap of $12 billion per year.

To resolve this problem, the IFC has provided a green bond solution; a type of fixed-income stock that attracts capital for projects that have environmental benefits. So far, the IFC has released more than 8.2 billion green bonds. Proceeds from the bond issues will be committed to investing in programs strengthening adaptation and reducing the impact of climate change, including clean energy projects, and boosting the efficient use of energy, public transport, and clean water. The connection with SolarBK in this dialogue shows that the IFC is interested in investing in Vietnam’s solar market, especially rooftop solar power.

Together with the Armstrong Investment Fund (Singapore) they contributed 16 and 20 per cent, respectively, to the Gia Lai Electricity Corporation (GEC), a power subsidiary of TTC, developing solar power factories. The roundtable also identified problems in each country that affect the general growth of public infrastructure investment and network links.

SolarBK shared its experience in designing and developing large-scale renewable energy system on islands (integrated wind power, solar power, and seawater filter technology), and proposed new directions that would help countries with similar geography to be proactive in improving their power sources and reducing energy shortages in all of Asia. 

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