Vietnamese cities embrace energy-efficient public lighting

public lighting
© United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

A UNDP funded project is bringing energy efficient lighting to streets, schools and hospitals across Viet Nam. Increasing energy efficiency is central to the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help curb climate change in the country. The Vietnam Energy Efficient Public Lighting is an ambitious US$15 million plan, funded by the Global Environment Facility, UNDP, central and local government, and the private sector, to install and promote the use of energy efficient lighting across the country. Lighting accounts for 25 percent of all electricity consumed in Viet Nam.

Cities across Viet Nam are starting to embrace green and energy-efficient street lighting as they struggle with rising electricity costs and rapid urban growth. Using energy-efficient lighting helps save power, reduces carbon emissions and cuts electricity costs.

Highlights

  • Lighting accounts for 25 percent of all electricity consumed in Viet Nam, and public lighting about a tenth of that.
  • The government recently introduced a new law on energy efficiency, as well as a decree on energy savings in public lighting and a national plan for public lighting over the next 15 years.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Bac Kinh, senior technical advisor of the Vietnam Energy Efficient Public Lighting (VEEPL) project, which is supported by UNDP,says that in the past most Vietnamese cities did not pay attention to public lighting. “[However,] cities across the country have come to realize that efficient public lighting reflects the level of development and affects the quality of life significantly,” Dr. Kinh explains.

VEEPL is an ambitious and comprehensive US$15 million plan, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP, central and local government agencies and the private sector,to install and promote the use of energy efficient lighting in streets, schools and hospitals across the country. Lighting accounts for 25 percent of all electricity consumed in Viet Nam, and public lighting about a tenth of that.

Since 2006, Ho Chi Minh City has made considerable efforts to lower its energy consumption by prohibiting the installation of new energy intense lamps and bulbs and replacing traditional lighting devices with more energy efficient ones.

For example, according to statistics from the HCMC Public Lighting Company, the city had about 230,000 light posts at the end of 2006. A year later, with technical support from VEEPL experts, the company piloted the use of bi-power ballasts. This allows the street lamp to emit more light during times of heavy traffic and reduces the amount of light and lowers the amount of energy used during less-congested hours. There are now about 30,000-40,000 lamps equipped with bipower ballasts in HCMC.

All of these efforts have helped to cut electricity consumption in the city. Each year, it is estimated that HCMC uses VND120 billion (approximately US$5.7 million) worth of electricity, including power for public lighting. Last year, however, the city managed to save 37.7 million kWh on public lighting, a reduction of over 40 percent.

In 2008, with technical support from UNDP, HCMC also established an automatic public lighting control center, which controls 12,000 lights in the city. According to Mr. Tran Trong Hue, director of the HCMC Public Lighting Company, technicians at the center can control the level of illumination according to traffic density. By adjusting the level of light electricity can be saved, estimated at VND10 billion annually, while also making it safe for drivers, especially at night time.

“This is certainly one of the most advanced technologies in public lighting, which means we are still assessing its effectiveness and whether we should expand it to the rest of the lighting system in the city,” Hue says.

Similar to HCMC, Quy Nhon, a central coastal city in Binh Dinh province, has managed to transform 30 kilometers of road using energy-saving lighting devices, installing more than 2,000 high-efficient lights. This saves the city an estimated 40,000kwh annually.

Do Dinh Phuong, director of Quy Nhon Public Lighting and Park Company, said in the past the city was only “burning” electricity, instead of “consuming” it.

City officials have also made efforts to incorporate efficient public lighting into urban planning. “We want to make sure that Quy Nhon’s public lighting system can cope with the rapid urbanization growth,” says Mr. Thai Ngoc Bich, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee.

More and more cities across Viet Nam are now keen to pilot the public lighting project and take advantage of the energy saving technologies. Change is also happening at the national level. The government recently introduced a new law on energy efficiency, as well as a decree on energy savings in public lighting and a national plan for public lighting over the next 15 years. Together,these efforts will help to lower energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions across Viet Nam.