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''CORE'': Co-operation in action

Supporting renewable energy technology transfer

by Tien-ake Tiyapongpattana and Bundit Na-Lamphun

Technology transfer is crucial to the sustainable development of renewable energy. To get to know more about renewable energy, a group of Vietnamese scientists and technicians attended training courses and had a look at renewable energy applications.

A good example of the kind of co-operative activity that is taking place among members of the " Council on Renewable Energy in the Mekong Region (CORE)" occurred in late July-early August 1996, when five scientists and technicians from four Vietnamese institutes visited Thailand on a two-week study tour that included trips to renewable energy sites in the north, a training course on domestic and industrial solar energy applications at the Solar Energy Research and Training Centre (SERT) at Phitsanulok, another training course on solar encapsulation processes organised by BP Solar Co. Ltd. in Bangkok together with a visit to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Energy Park, and a further trip to a hybrid wind and solar power station in Phuket in the south. All five visitors gave the training project high marks.

The original idea for the project emerged when the Department for Development of Solar Electricity (SOLARLAB) within the Vietnam National Centre for Natural Science and Technology participated in the 1994 seminar in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, on the state of the art and prospects for photovoltaic (PV) systems in Thailand and neighbouring countries (cf. previous story). SOLARLAB found the seminar such a good opportunity to exchange experiences and transfer technology that it approached the two sponsors - the Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation (DTEC), Thailand and «Deutsche Gesellschaft fhnische Zusammenarbeit" (GTZ) to see whether further technology transfer could be arranged.


Durant l' 1996, un groupe de scientifiques et de technicians vietnamiens s'est rendu en Thailande pour se familiariser avec les technologies de mise en valeur des rgies renouvelables. Dans le cadre de leur voyage, ils ont pris part n snaire sur les rgies nouvelles. L'initiative du projet revient au drtement " SOLARLAB " du Centre vietnamien des sciences de la nature et des technologies.


En verano de 1996, un grupo de cientcos y ticos vietnamitas visitilandia con el objetivo de informarse sobre las diferentes formas de energrenovable. En el marco de su viaje, participation en un seminario sobre este tema. El proyecto fue iniciado por el departamento "SOLARLAB" del Centro Vietnamita de Ciencias Naturales y Tecnolog

International support

The upshot was that in December 1995, SOLARLAB submitted a formal proposal. Five solar experts from Vietnam would visit Thailand for two weeks to undertake the training described above. The project would be jointly sponsored by DTEC, the GTZ/ISAT project, and the International Training Institute for Materials Science (ITIMS) in Vietnam with facilitation by RISE-AT.

Two of the solar experts came from SOLARLAB itself in Ho Chi Minh City while the other three came, respectively, from the Institute of Energy, Hanoi, the Renewable Energy Centre, Hanoi, and the Renewable Energy Centre, Can Tho. They arrived on July 22, 1996 and were immediately plunged into an intensive two week programme.

Visits to solar plants

The first three days included orientation at RISE-AT, an introduction to the Energy Development and Promotion Department's (DEDP) photovoltaic battery charging programme in Thailand, and trips to nearby mini-hydro, geothermal and PV charging sites. The group then travelled to Phitsanulok for three days of intensive study on solar energy applications for domestic and rural industrial use. Solar drying and solar charging sites were also visited.

Constraints to the application of renewable energies in rural areas were discussed.

Moving on to Bangkok, the group spent four days learning PV encapsulation processes step by step at BP Solar Co.'s factory and visiting AIT's Energy Park. As a result of the visit, BP Solar and SOLARLAB have begun a formal cooperation agreement. The group saw solar hot water, solar pumping, solar cooking end PV systems at the AIT-Energy Park. The final four days were spent at Phuket, southern Thailand, and hosted by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), where after a wellearned day off, participants visited a hybrid wind and solar power station of EGAT that could also be used in rural Vietnam. The outcomes of the trip are as follows:

First, senior Vietnamese solar experts have been exposed to a range of new technologies, particularly PV encapsulation and hybrid systems, which they will begin to implement in their own country, working directly with the contacts they made during the trip. Since the visit, SOLARLAB has started its own solar assembling and encapsulation line in Ho Chi Minh City.

Second, the technologies transferred in this way to SR Vietnam will be further disseminated when Vietnam, under its treaty of friendship with Lao PDR, in turn demonstrates them to Lao technicians.

More generally, of course, the project has helped to fulfill the goals of the "Council on Renewable Energy in the Mekong Region" - broader awareness among governments, the private sector and research institutes of all renewable energy technologies and their applications in the region, the ultimate goal being to promote its sustainable development through greater use of alternative technology.