Energy Project Statement

The Mekong Delta has good electricity coverage and most people have access to natural gas canisters for cooking. However they still face the global problem of making energy usage sustainable. In the long term, a sustainable energy solution will need to be developed which is appropriate to the environment of the Mekong Delta region. Sustainable energy usage can be achieved in many ways, and result in immediate benefits which compound over time; consider ways to improve household energy efficiency (e.g. insulation, efficient stoves), or harvest cheap renewable energy (e.g. solar, biomass, wind).

Design Projects

 

EWB and Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity invite you to consider one or more of the following design projects:

·         A renewable energy system based on solar, wind or biomass.

·         A building energy efficiency project.

·         A system which directly utilises a renewable energy source, for example;

o   An alternative cooking method that utilises a renewable energy source

o   A water pump which utilises a renewable energy source

o   An alternative fuel for boats 

Design Considerations

When designing a solution, the following issues have been identified and should be considered a priority. The proposal should consider:

·         The cost of your solution. Including purchasing costs, maintenance costs, payback time, and possibly government subsidies.

·         The cost vs. benefit of your solution. Will your solution appeal to the locals, or could you convince a government that your solution is worth investing in?

·         The appropriateness of your solution to the social, economic and physical environment in the Mekong Delta. 

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Additional Information

Energy sources and usage in a household:

The Mekong Delta has good electricity coverage with approximately 80 - 90% of the households being connected to the grid. Electricity is predominately used for lighting and charging mobile phones in a typical household. Some households may also have a television. 

The main source of power in Mekong Delta region and Kein Giang Province is electricity from power stations. Kien Giang does not have a power station however and the nearest one which powers the grid is located in Ca Mau (south).  The power plant is powered by petroleum.

The electricity is turned off in summer (hot season from April to July) for about one day a week during daylight hours, this is a scheduled outage and residents are informed of the day in advance. There has been some damage to the electricity grid and infrastructure from storms particularly in 1997, but this not generally an issue. City prices for electricity are about 100,000 VD per poor household and prices range from 3000-5000 per kWh. Next year the price of electricity is predicted to increase 30%. Connection fees to electricity do apply and depend on how far you are away from the server can be up to 750,000 VD.

There is one solar company in the area, but solar panels are generally only used in hotels for hot water heating. In rural areas no one uses solar power at the moment.  

 

Cooking:

Cooking is often conducted on either gas fired stoves or wood and charcoal stoves. Gas cylinders are readily available however they are quite expensive. Consequently gas is used only in an emergency when food is needed quickly or when there is no wood or charcoal available. There is a gas delivery service on the canal which sells gas cylinders for $20USD per 12L in the commune. 

Poorer households will cook on open fires fuelled by charcoal, wood and rice husks. The open fires are typically located in an enclosed kitchen hut away from the main building. Improved fuels and stoves are required to reduce the health hazards associated with cooking on an open fire in an enclosed space and to reduce fire hazards. While kitchens are enclosed they have an open layout which means that while smoke builds up it is not excessive. Charcoal is purchased from mobile businesses on the canal. It can be purchased for $1USD per kg for high quality or $0.8USD for low quality. 

Wood is free and collected from small patches of forest along the canals. While wood is easy to find at the moment it is getting more and more difficult each year. In addition the wet season is lasting longer each year which means it is often difficult to find dry wood for cooking. 

 

Fuel for transport:

One of the most common forms of transport are boats along the network of canals in the Mekong. Motor boats cause noise, water and air pollution and leaking of fuels from the boats into the waterways is a common problem. There is room for improvement to motors and alternative fuel or power supplies for boats. The most common fuel for boats is currently diesel. Diesel can be purchased for $1.2USD per L in the commune.