When a blackout hit RMIT Vietnam’s Saigon South campus earlier this year, a light bulb went on inside the head of Hayrettin Arisoy, Technical Manager in the Centre of Technology.
For the price of the diesel generators that powered the lights back on, Mr Arisoy figured that he could purchase solar panels and boost the burgeoning renewable energy initiatives at RMIT Vietnam.
Two solar powered stations have recently been installed at the University’s Saigon South campus, complete with electric outlets for students to charge their devices and working areas for them to study.
“In addition to serving as charging stations, the panels collect solar power generation data for renewable energy research,” Mr Arisoy said.
Mr Arisoy explained that location-based data on solar energy in Vietnam is not readily available, and the panels will fill this need.
“The panels collect data on how much solar power can be generated in a ten-minute period throughout the day, and we can then use that data to run simulations which have practical benefits.
“If you were to build a house and wanted to know how many solar panels you need to install on your rooftop and how many back-up batteries to buy, these simulations would answer your questions.”
Mr Arisoy added that while Vietnam is looking to transition away from coal power, the large-scale use of renewable energy is still some years away because of the reliance on existing energy infrastructure and the cheap prices of coal-powered and hydropower electricity subsided by the state. This situation is forecasted to undergo significant changes in the near future.
Professor Alex Stojcevski, Head of RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Technology, said that in this context it’s important for the University to be a prominent player in the area of renewable energy.
“Vietnam is poised to grow tremendously over the next few decades, and for this to be sustainable, renewable energy needs to play a much larger role in driving Vietnam’s productivity,” Professor Stojcevski posits.
“The country’s entire power needs could be met by renewable energy.
“Without a switch to renewable energy Vietnam would be emitting 450 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide a year and importing 50 per cent of its fuel needs.
“Sustainable energy from solar, wind, and biomass technologies will be unavoidable for Vietnam.”
Reflecting on RMIT Vietnam’s students and programs, Professor Stojcevski said it’s important for Vietnam’s future leaders to be knowledgeable about sustainable development and the potential of renewable energy.
“We’re preparing for this future by embedding renewable energy into the research and teaching in the Centre of Technology,” he said.
“Our research cluster on ‘Smart Cities’ is a clear indication of our agenda in the Centre of Technology.”
One of the students benefiting from the focus on renewable energy is Bachelor of Engineering student Nguyen Phuong Duy who built an energy grid as part of a class project.
“I think the recently installed solar stations bring a breath of fresh air to the campus,” Duy said.
“It’s a good step in making the campus green.
“But there’s still a lot to do to make Vietnam’s development sustainable.”
Story: Howie Phung