Vietnam has good access to electricity in the main population centres but many rural areas have limited access or it is produced using diesel that needs to be shipped in. These locations can be suitable for a number of technologies that can be deployed at small-scale for the production of liquid and gas fuels. The fuels can be used directly in households, businesses and transport, or used to generate electricity.
Potential projects include:
Biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, produced from plant materials. Plant sugars in crops such as corn and sugar cane can be fermented to produce ethanol or crop waste can be used to supplement other biomass but the ethanol yield is lower. Biodiesel can be made from plant seeds rich in oils or from plant waste after most of the oil has been extracted for food. Another exciting potential source of biomass for biofuel production is algae. A number of companies are developing processes for the farming of algae which are often rich in oils. An advantage of this is that algae can be grown in ponds utilising land that is not suitable for food crops, which avoids the problem of fuel crops displacing food crops.
Biogas, produced from biomass through the process of anaerobic digestion, is rich in methane and can be used by households, businesses or industries that need heating. A method of biogas production from animal dung that has proved very successful in Indonesia, Nepal and Vietnam uses a fixed-dome reactor that is made of masonry and concrete and is concealed underground. Units can be built for a single house or in a village to provide energy to a small community. After bio-digestion has finished, the bio-slurry is a good quality fertiliser.
Gasification, the thermal conversion of biomass to produce both heat and a combustible gas, is ideally suited to small scale applications. Crop waste such as rice husks and maize have been used for several years and hybrid systems utilising solar and biomass gasification have also recently been developed. The heat can be used directly, but the more important product is the gas which can be used generate electricity using reciprocating engines, gas turbines or fuel cells. The gas can be used as feedstock to produce hydrogen and liquid hydrocarbons such as ethanol, if electricity is not required immediately. Energy stored as hydrogen or ethanol can be stored, transported or used at a later date.
Possible sources of funding include:
- Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility
- GEF Small Grants Programme
- NAMA Facility
- ResponsAbility Energy Access
- Thanh Hoa Microfinance Institution