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US companies eye clean energy investments

Released at: 12:24, 16/05/2015

US companies eye clean energy investments

Thursday conference hears that US investors see huge potential in renewable energy in Vietnam.

by Minh Tien

Many US companies have expressed a desire to begin or expand investments in Vietnam, which they believe has great potential for renewable energy generation and distribution, Mr. Patrick Wall, Principal Commercial Officer at the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, told the “Smart Solutions for Vietnam” conference held last Thursday.

The country’s 3,400 km of coastline, he said, is capable of providing 500 to 1,000 kWh of wind energy per square meter each year. Solar energy also has potential, with an average solar radiation, or the radiant energy emitted by the sun, of 5kWh per sq m per day in the country.

The conference was jointly organized by the Consulate General and the Dau Tu (Investment) newspaper, with its 150 attendees, including US experts and Vietnamese officials and businesses, discussing smart solutions for clean energy development in Vietnam.

Another reason US investors are keen on the country, Mr. Wall added, is its potential for small hydropower plants (with a capacity of less than 30MW) that can generate more than 4,000MW in total.

He cited US energy giant General Electric (GE) as evidence of American companies’ strong involvement in Vietnam. GE has been operating in the country for 20 years in four main sectors: energy, aviation, medical equipment, and oil and gas.

Thursday’s conference was “the latest example of the growing cooperation between Vietnam and the US in the area of clean energy development,” Dau Tu quoted Mr. Wall as saying.

Seeking smart solutions for developing clean energy is among the focuses of a national strategy for “green development” Vietnam has been pursuing, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen The Phuong told the gathering.

He acknowledged the potential for renewable energy identified by Mr. Wall, adding that Vietnam will boost investment in clean energy to serve socio-economic development.

The Deputy Minister also acknowledged that Vietnam still relies heavily on fossil fuels for household consumption and economic activities.

While the country continues to use large quantities of its natural resources, it has also determined that “economic growth should be accompanied by environmental protection.”

“Vietnam can develop water, wind, solar and biomass energy, as well as bio-energy if it can take advantage of the technological advances in these fields around the world,” he said.

Bio-energy is renewable energy made from materials deriving from biological sources, whereas biomass is any organic material that has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy.

As a fuel, bio-energy may include wood, wood waste, straw, manure, sugarcane, and many other byproducts from a variety of agricultural processes.

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