Alternative Energy Business Opportunity?

Hi Gang,

I had just gotten off the phone with my younger sister, in California.  One of her best friends owns an alternative energy business, namely solar and wind power generation, and he wants to bring that into the Vietnamese market.

I studied electricity a little when I was younger.  But, I have never had a chance to go into depth with it, let a lone alternative stuffs to it.  But, from a business and environmental standpoint, I think it is a great opportunity.

Last I looked into alternative energy was about 6 months ago, as I was planning the design and construction of my little home.  But, Vietnam had very little of such resources; the prices were still high; and there were quite a bit of red tapes to deal with.  I had to stop there.

Now, with this new opportunity, I think it worths going into depth with; and I want to start with you guys.  What do you think about alternative energy?  Have any of you had any experience with this product (Anatta...  I mean other than your solar calculator, OK.  Haaa!)?  Do you think the results justify the costs?  What do you think the Vietnamese energy czars will say?  Thanks guys.

Howie

Howie

Kiddo. I am a big user of solar energy everyday. Back home, I have a dryer running nearly continuously to dry my family's clothes. Here, all I need is a rack to hang my clothes.

I have not even mentioned those full-spectrum lamps and sunbeds that costs a ton to buy.

Kidding aside, I did look into it some time ago, albeit on an industrial production scale. Alternative energy is still too expensive to buy and operate. In Europe where this is popular, the industry needs government subsidy to produce and operate.
Despite all the fanfare of President Obama's promise, it is yet to take off in the States. The Solyndra bankruptcy certainly does not help.

If you are talking about on microscale, VN has used sun panels to warm water. It is quite cost effective, I believe. It is, however, not cost effective when you want to produce electricity as an alternative to the standard power source. For that, the initial investment is too high.
Remember in addition, electricity cost is hugely subsidized in VN by the government.

Maybe too late as GE is setting up a wind generator plant right here in VN.

See:: < http://www.qdnd.vn/qdndsite/en-us/75/72 … fault.aspx > (interesting news source for VN stuff, too), < http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Relea … -3232.aspx >.

Jaitch :

Maybe too late as GE is setting up a wind generator plant right here in VN.

See:: < http://www.qdnd.vn/qdndsite/en-us/75/72 … fault.aspx > (interesting news source for VN stuff, too), < http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Relea … -3232.aspx >.

Big old GE relies on the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which provides a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) benefit for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility's operation to be able to sell its turbine to new wind farms. Similar story in the EU.

Concerning GE vs. China, it is a long story for those who have followed the wind turbine industry in China.

Essentially, GE caved in the demand of China to give its technology to get access to Chinese mkt. In a few short years, China succeeded to steal/copy the technology and now on the way to become a world leader in wind turbine production. The case has been seen as exhibit 1 in the danger of dealing with China.
Although the Obama Administration filed a wind-turbine complaint with the World Trade Organization, no U.S. company joined to defend itself!!!

The reason GE set up a factory in Vietnam is probably a reaction to what happened in China.

Tere was an interesting discussion in Der Spiegel English concerning the financial ability of wind generators as they spend most of their time idling.

Too fast or too slow they can't operate; they are 400 feet high and make good mincemeat of any bird flying into them.

They also emit a pleasant 'whoosh, whoosh' noise and disrupt terrestrial communications including television, FM radio and cell/handset signals.

Let's hope VN does the smart thing and tests them carefully.

Hello fellas,

Thanks for chiming in.  Your comments and links really helped.  I really appreciate it.

Anatta, I poked fun at you but it was me who actually never owned anything that is environmentally friendly, other than the calculators.  Heee!!!

But, I did speak to my sister earlier and her friend's business specializes more on consumer solar energy products.  I will have to wait until the guy communicates with me directly to find out more about the costs and product range. 

But, I agree with you that the cost for these product are still far to high for a typical consumer.  It is the main reason that I am very interested in working with this guy.  Hopefully, we can find out ways to reduce this cost down to a more manageable level.

I wonder if any of you have seen that documentary about a Thai architect who designed his home to be so energy efficient that, during the day, he was able to sell electricity back to his city?  I think it was on NG or Discovery.  But, that was a fascinating story.  I wish my home can be like that; and more people's homes will be like that as well.  Then, we won't have to worry about the repeat of what happened in Japan a couple of years ago.

I learned that the government of Vietnam is subsidizing the costs of those solar water heaters being sold here.  That is a great start.  Now, if I could only find my ways through the red tapes to get at such subsidies.  Heee!!!

Howie

I have heard stories years ago of homes built in California that rely on solar energy.  Many months the homeowners receive payments from the energy company instead of paying a bill.

Wild_1 :

I wonder if any of you have seen that documentary about a Thai architect who designed his home to be so energy efficient that, during the day, he was able to sell electricity back to his city?  I think it was on NG or Discovery.  But, that was a fascinating story.  I wish my home can be like that; and more people's homes will be like that as well.  Then, we won't have to worry about the repeat of what happened in Japan a couple of years ago.

I saw the program a while ago and I think the architects ideas are much more applicable to VietNam as the environments are so similar whereas using North America or Europe is less applicable.

One thing that will save air-con big time is by having a double roof where the roof of the living area is separated from the real external roof of the house by 30-50 centimetres. The sun heats up the external roof but because of the separation and the fact the void has no sides all the hot air is simply blown away and the lower, living quarter roof, is much cooler.

Wild_1 :

I learned that the government of Vietnam is subsidizing the costs of those solar water heaters being sold here.  That is a great start.  Now, if I could only find my ways through the red tapes to get at such subsidies.

I cannot understand why hotels haven't used solar water pre-heating before supplying water to the room hot water heaters years ago.

New hotels have to, in TP HCM, use solar heating.

Just imagine the hit on the power systems as thousands of individual water heaters kick in as guests have showers. If EVN subsidised solar heating they would save big money by reducing the need for generators and grid wiring.

A black plastic hose loosely uncoiled on your roof will really provide a lot of hot water on demand.

There are a couple of companies manufacturing solar water heaters in VN but the cheap, mass produced units from China are formidable competition.

From my TP HCM office, in a highrise condo building, I can look down on many house roofs and I notice those that have installed solar heating panels have them pointing every which way. Even in VietNam the optimum direction is towards the south AND the vertical angle has to be adjusted to account for differences in  Longitude (aka meridians) - what's good for TP HCM is not optimum for Ha Noi.

I think the big market potential is for solar-driven air conditioning. I love the solar sunroof in the Audi cars.

Wild_1 :

Hello fellas,
Anatta, I poked fun at you but it was me who actually never owned anything that is environmentally friendly, other than the calculators.  Heee!!!
Howie

Now listen, your technology-challenged surfer boy, I am deeply, deeply offended :lol:

I think the architects ideas are much more applicable to VietNam as the environments are so similar whereas using North America or Europe is less applicable.

Right on, Jaitch.  That was why I was so fascinated by it.

One thing that will save air-con big time is by having a double roof where the roof of the living area is separated from the real external roof of the house by 30-50 centimetres. The sun heats up the external roof but because of the separation and the fact the void has no sides all the hot air is simply blown away and the lower, living quarter roof, is much cooler.

There is this alternative to the regular roofing materials that we have been using.  It is Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene or ETFE.  It is being used to cover stadiums and arenas around the world.  The most famous of them all is the Bird Nest stadium in China, the site of the last Olympic.

It used a very similar concept to what you are talking about, except the layers are polymer-liked, see-throughs.  Very light weight, transparent, and air tight.  It lasts a long time and very easy to maintain.  The knock is that it costs quite a bit though.

I love the solar sunroof in the Audi cars.

They have such things now?  Man...  Being here and relegated to these motorbikes have not helped much with my cause at all...  Now, I do feel like one of those "surfer boys", except that I don't surf.  Thanks, Anatta.  :cool:

Howie

I was checking on solar panels at Vinatex today and guess what I saw:

Howie your classes at the Can Tho University must have started already. I was at KFC this morning and as I was walking down the steps there were three university students walking up the steps. Two dudes and a girl, all with bleach blond hair singing “Be True To Your School”


I'll try again on the solar panels later.

Two dudes and a girl, all with bleach blond hair singing “Be True To Your School”

Here goes half of that "Funnymen" duo.  :cool:

Slate magazine had an interesting piece of German attitudes to solar.

< www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politic … dies_.html >

Currently is huge dying for many of the alternative energy giants in the western world ongoing. Developers, manufacturers and subventions for such energies are dying.

I had actually 2 customers here in Vietnam from this branch, the longest survived actually 3 month.
European Customers from the same branch are freezing all orders at the current stage and preparing alternatives to alternative energies.

The lines above are not motivating, just showing the reality. Alternative Energies can only be developed with loads of subsidy as development is expansive.

Is Vietnam already such a big market, where costs for alternatives and subventions do not matter? Energy is still very cheap here in Vietnam, one of the reasons, many foreign companies setting up here in Vietnam.
A true technology transfer does not go parallel.

As much as I like to have my power from my roof, it easy multiplies the anyway overpriced value of a home and is therefore no question for a long time ahead.

Hello gang,

I just came up with a pretty cool idea:  what if I can secure financing to the point that we can offer the customers 0 to low downs and low monthly payments over an X number of years, just like the auto industry does in North America?  So, the customers will pay something similar or slightly lower than what they are paying monthly for electricity.  Then, after that, the panels are all theirs and they won't have to pay a dime again, for the life of the panels.  What about that, huh?  I think that is very attractive and it will solve the high costs to the customers at the beginning.

Let me know what you think.  Thanks.
Howie

Oh, just try it.
How you want to secue the loans you are granting?

The biggest challenge is that there is no bi-directional metering. Which means you can't 'save' money unless you use a hell of a lot of electricity or live in the remote parts of Son La or Dien Bien Phu provinces.

Solar electricity requires controllers, banks of batteries, etc.

Personally, I think solar hot water is a more viable project since most of it is static plumbing.

As far as the components go, heat transfer tanks are the hardest part to secure. These usually comprise a regular closed tank with a coiled pipe assembly in the centre running the length of the tank.

This transfers heat from the solar water circuit to the consumable side. Luckily in VN stainless steel (aka Inox) is a popular metal so the 'hot' parts of a system can be constructed with high quality materials at reasonable cost.

A slight challenge is the hot storage tank. The tank, per se, is no problem but it has to be insulated. This is often not done here but 'pink' fibreglass is available in VN, so tanks can be protected.

A solar installation has to be coordinated with the cold water system, the cold tank should be higher than the hot water tank.

The solar arrays are easy to make, or cheap to purchase. Chinese arrays can be of varying quality.

The last challenge is feeding the hot water in to and through the average VN home. Lot-line construction means you usually only have one side of a building available for running pipes externally and the internal design / construction usually makes it extremely difficult. I seem to remember the resistance of one elbow is similar to at least a metre of pipe.

In new construction it is a breeze.

Howie
I think it is an excellent idea. You'll make tons of money just on the interest of the installment scheme with no debt risks.

With the advanced FAKE (Fully Automatic Knowledge-based Evaluation) credit rating system being used here, you are all set. The system, as you may know, is far superior than anything available out there. It takes into account not only your net worth but also your close relatives and associates' net worth to come up your real assets. Of course, it adds your declared and non-declared assets. It evaluates your credit worthiness using sophisticated algorithms taking into counting the numbers of times you run red lights, ratio of your known assets/total assets, even numbers of times you have dinners with government officials.

However, the system is superfluous if you ask me. Most Vietnamese pay their debts on time, even before time, so why bother. Just look at the bad debt ratio from the Vietnamese banks. The number is so small it can be rounded down to 0.

Anatta :

Howie
I think it is an excellent idea. You'll make tons of money just on the interest of the installment scheme with no debt risks.

With the advanced FAKE (Fully Automatic Knowledge-based Evaluation) credit rating system being used here, you are all set. The system, as you may know, is far superior than anything available out there. It takes into account not only your net worth but also your close relatives and associates' net worth to come up your real assets. Of course, it adds your declared and non-declared assets. It evaluates your credit worthiness using sophisticated algorithms taking into counting the numbers of times you run red lights, ratio of your known assets/total assets, even numbers of times you have dinners with government officials.

However, the system is superfluous if you ask me. Most Vietnamese pay their debts on time, even before time, so why bother. Just look at the bad debt ratio from the Vietnamese banks. The number is so small it can be rounded down to 0.

Darn! Does this mean he will have to put his BMW dream car on lay away?

Anatta,

That is another thing that I love about Vietnam:  all loans are secured up the ying-yang, yet the interest rate is astronomically high. 

Now, what about the technical and logistic parts, any of you know anything?  I am no engineer type, neither am I a transportation whiz, fill me in fellas...

Thanks before hand,
Howie

I am no whiz, but try the BMW for logistics :). It's a small, bet reliable start.

Howie

Dude, I assume you surely picked up the sarcastic tone in my previous description of the Vietnamese payment delinquency situation.

:cool:...."It evaluates your credit worthiness using sophisticated algorithms taking into counting the numbers of times you run red lights, ratio of your known assets/total assets, even numbers of times you have dinners with government officials"....

Helloooo....I think it's time for new reading glasses!:cool:

Poor brother Wild1. He mentioned that some 15 yr old kid plowed into his motorbike and injured his hand. I hope Wild1 was wearing his helmet at the time?

http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oGdXWu … Behind_Act

Unfortunately, Wild1 got left behind. :sosad:

I think you meant this 'Left Behind'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind

http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n11/n55437.jpg

OWWWWWWWWWW !

That's not very nice at all !   :P  ;)

Flip465 :

That's not very nice at all !

Tell me about it!! Poor Wild1. Don't know what else we can do to help him.

Anatta,

I that you would know much much better than toying around with the Wildman???  What is wrong with you?  This time, I am going to let this hideous act of war slide, OK?  Next time...  :dumbom:.  It's on.

Kidding aside.  I thought you would know that no debt in Vietnam is a bad debt?  They just don't go away the way they do in the west.  It is only a matter of time, in collection. 

As for loan security, Vietnamese lenders, aside from the standard stuffs like incomes and assets, they do take into consideration personal networks.  I have a credit card, with a 100 million Dong limit; and I have had lenders approached me because one of my local friends was delinquent with his loan.

Man, you and Amberlulu have been too busy talking smacks, perhaps you both have been "left behind."  :proud

Anatta :
Flip465 :

That's not very nice at all !

Tell me about it!! Poor Wild1. Don't know what else we can do to help him.

HAA-HAA-HAA !  How about you buying him his dream BMW rag-top ???

While you're at the BMW dealer, my sweet VN partner would love a nice, shiny, brand new, 2012 white (or metallic red) BMW Series 5 sedan, with the usual top-of-the-range options. :D

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Wild_1 :

They just don't go away the way they do in the west.  It is only a matter of time, in collection.

Amen. I certainly hope so, man, for my own sake since my employer still owns me salary which he conveniently seems to forget :o.

Anatta :
Wild_1 :

They just don't go away the way they do in the west.  It is only a matter of time, in collection.

Amen. I certainly hope so, man, for my own sake since my employer still owns me salary which he conveniently seems to forget :o.

agree on that. That requires a huge amount on staff, just "communicating" with overdue customers.
When it's ready, I come along and buy some stuff on credit :)

Flip465 :

How about you buying him his dream BMW rag-top ???

He (or his sugar mama) can afford that, being a callboy he is. :rolleyes:

Anatta :
Flip465 :

How about you buying him his dream BMW rag-top ???

He (or his sugar mama) can afford that, being a callboy he is. :rolleyes:

:P  Think I'll go and get a haircut or something before this gets completely out of hand ! 

;) :lol: :lol: :lol:

Had ta use a dictionary for all dem words, power to you. Some chairman just asked 2 weeks about someone knowing to importing energy tech.Ranting about solar batteries. look across from New world hotel the in the park they windmills backed with solor cells. I think in this region why not make semi solar windows, sunshine 200days/no winter. shoild just candy coat everything into solar cells. The Chairman also ask anybody want,know how to build anything film studio, VN WOOD? Land given by the people, just need. sorry my English bad
You find anything new on subject?

I just happened to stumble across this forum and cant believe I haven't found it before, such a great and diverse range of topics to read and relevant info on a huge amount of topics. I live in Mui ne so am a little out of the loop of HCMC and its activities but hopefully I can contribute and put back in some useful info too.

The subject of alternative energy is something I have been looking into in Vietnam for a while now but more on a small consumer level. Here in Mui ne we recieve the most days of sunshine out of all of Vietnam coupled with Mui Ne's well known trade and thermal winds that rock the place from Oct to around May.

Currently I have plans to build on the small piece of land I have here and fit it out to be as "of the grid" electricity wise as possible. This led me to researching smaller solar cells and wind turbines both here in Vietnam and in China but the outcome and expense of running with these options slowly started to mount up.

Using the power as it is generated is fairly straight forward but when the power has to be stored, usually in battery cells which themselves have a shelf life, this is where the problems start to arise, both from a technology viewpoint and from a financial one.

The house we will build is an Adobe style dome structure which is very insulated as it uses packed earth in a tubular sandbag to create the structure therefore air con should not be required so electric is only needed to power lights, fridge and general household electric items.

I really want to go down the alternative  path but am finding it hard to both source the system and justify the funds for it. If there was an option of selling the power back to the electricity companies then this might offset the outlay but unfortunately Vietnam has no such option.

Great forum.

Grizu :

This led me to researching smaller solar cells and wind turbines both here in Vietnam and in China but the outcome and expense of running with these options slowly started to mount up.

Using the power as it is generated is fairly straight forward but when the power has to be stored, usually in battery cells which themselves have a shelf life, this is where the problems start to arise, both from a technology viewpoint and from a financial one.

Most small scale generators push out DC which means it is necessary to have a storage medium which, for electricity, means batteries. It is impracticable to run a DC-AC converter straight from either solar cells or generators. Additionally the voltage has to be increased.

Usually the most viable solar power system is heating water - simple, low maintenance. But how much hot water can you consume?

Grizu :

The house we will build is an Adobe style dome structure which is very insulated as it uses packed earth in a tubular sandbag to create the structure therefore air con should not be required so electric is only needed to power lights, fridge and general household electric items.

Good luck getting an adobe style constructed building past the local building department.

I have used shipping containers in two construction projects. One was simply a basement level with four containers welded to each other, supported on concrete piles and non-load bearing as far as the house above was concerned.

The second was a mini-hotel. Again a basement level that carried the weight of the structures above. All were containers, all used their integral strength - which is well documented. No corners were modified and it is accepted, in the shipping business, that a vertical stack of ten containers is very conservative loading.

Additionally, all units were welded to each other and the whole lot tied together by steel beams at the top.

It wasn't really an architectural challenge as much as an engineering challenge. The whole thing was a mass of figures. The local building department switched from their alleged concerns about containers and their stacked carrying capacity to the concrete supports.

In the end they were satisfied the concrete piles and the pads topping them were correct. They had to score something so they required the combined weight of the containers be counterbalanced by requiring the basement hole be dug deeper. And to counteract this deeper hole we filled it with granite chips - which improved the drainage.

But packed dirt ... that will be one to watch!

"Nanosolar" is setting up production in Vietnam.
So I'm thinking of a way to be off the grid in HCM.
Nanosolar being cheaper,flexible, need to have inverter/converter
and deep cycle battery bank... that's pretty much all.
off course it does take time and effort, but it is worth it!!!
I also want to harvest rain water, and make use of "grey water".
Setup an Aquaponic, hydroponic urban indoor garden..

Solar power is more than just water heating!!

Energy is all around, just have to harvest it. (ask Tesla)

Saigonizer :

So I'm thinking of a way to be off the grid in HCM. Nanosolar being cheaper,flexible, need to have inverter/converter and deep cycle battery bank... that's pretty much all.

Assume that your consumption during a day is 5kW, and your peak is 2kW you'll need a converter to output around 9 Amps. If you use a 24V system this will suck 24 Amps from the battery.

The usable sunlight in HCM is around 10H daily in which time you have to bring your batteries up to full charge.

SO how many solar panels do you aim to have and do you have the space to mount them, always assuming you are residing in a single family unit.

Have a look at: < http://weatherspark.com/averages/33994/ … nh-Vietnam >. To get the amount of sunshine check: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh_City >..

At least EVN-HMC have a deal for you if you don't suck more than 3kW daily - the speccial poor people's rate!

And where are you getting deep cycle batteries from around here? The only readily available units are truck batteries.

P.S. II use battery powered emergency lighting and communications services in my home, office and mini-hotel.

Hi Jaitch, thanx for your answer.

Deep cycle battery in Vietnam???
http://www.minhtienbattery.com/ShowCate … tegoryID=7

And yes, I do live in a small house in the middle of Q3.
I think in order to consume less, I would have to use LED for all the light, as the battery bank 6 or 12volt.
Solar water heater (the DIY kind, black hose coil).

the new Nanosolar technology seems more efficient and cheaper.
maybe have a Fresnel lens on top of it,to amplify the sun power.
I'm also looking at those "permanent magnet" motor...
I am learning everyday a little bit more,and I don't claim anything.
And I am certainly not interested in a "poor people" rate, that's not the point.
My motivation is more about making a better world than anything else.
I know it all sound cheesy and corny.but it's how I feel..
"when there is a Will, there is a Way".

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