Suntiki thank you Vietnam
for solar panel projects on rooftops.
Saigon Times, the country’s leading newspaper on business and economics, featured Suntiki Solar in an article about how businesses in Vietnam handle Covid lockdown.
Please briefly tell me about the first days you started the solar energy project in Vietnam? (Reason, potential and project scale)
My Vietnam solar panel ambitions started in 2015 while in Norwegian oil industry. My mind kept wandering back to the early 2010 working in Vũng Tàu where I had the most amazing time to reconnect with Vietnam culture as a Swedish Vietnamese who left Vietnam at very young age.
I also witnessed Vietnam’s strong economic growth that raised living standards for everyone. I saw incredible passion among my Vietnamese friends for new technology and also their increasing concern about air quality in the cities. There was definitely hope, excitement and increasing pollution in the air.
Suntiki donate rice-atm Vietnam:
“one small drop is one of many small drops that becomes an ocean of safety for the poor and vulnerable in Covid time”
“There was definitely hope, excitement and increasing pollution in the air.”
These main factors convinced me that solar energy is the future in Vietnam. I took my life savings, made Vietnam solar case to friends & family for investment and set up Suntiki Solar store in District 3 HCMC just at the right moment in 2017 when the government issued the first Vietnam solar policy draft that allows solar rooftop owners sell electricity at 9.35$ cents per kWh (the Feed-in-Tariff, FiT, Decision No. 11/2017/QD-TTg)
It is now easy to see that establishing Suntiki Solar is a “no-brainer” decision. Solar is the future and in 2019, Vietnam went from nothing to become the leading South East Asian country in terms of installed capacity beating big countries like Australia. But back in 2017 my friends thought I was crazy for believing in an industry so reliant on government policy.
“phenomenal record projects in summer 2019 because of …”
Potential & Scale:
Vietnam has tremendous solar potentials but only with the right government policies that can level the playing field that coal and other industries enjoy. With supportive policies, solar will play a critical role in powering Vietnam’s economic growth with renewable energy and at the same time reduce the air pollution that is hurting our families and children.
All the factors are just about right: geographically, Vietnam has one of the highest sunhours in the world. Solar panel price is at record low. And solar technology continues to push the power limit now at 500 watt for a single panel. There is a huge desire among Vietnamese people to support future technologies and immensely concerned about the coal energy plans. Parents in Vietnam want an environmentally cleaner future for their children.
The biggest factor of all is the 40-year record low oil price in April at 10$ a barrel unfortunately due to covid worldwide situation. While this will sadly impact many oil industry jobs we have an opportunity to bring these highly skilled and experienced engineers over to develop the solar industry.
How was it before the coronavirus began?
Covid-19 impact on Suntiki business operations.
Suntiki had phenomenal record projects back in summer 2019 because of Vietnam’s generous feed-in-tariff of 9.35$ cent. The solar subsidy allows solar panel rooftop owners to sell surplus solar energy to EVN to recoup the initial investment cost.
Suntiki installed all over Vietnam from near HCMC, Dong Nai, Cu Chi and all the way up to central Vietnam in beautiful places like Hoi An.
The demand returned to normal level after the summer. Before Covid, Suntiki’s main concern was to keep up with sales inquires in a booming industry.
How is it at the moment?
Suntiki’s priorities changed a bit during the Covid time. We still receive phone calls and we do what we can during the locktime period to consult clients over zalo to maintain social distancing requirement.
However, instead of launching solar energy product advertising, Suntiki tries to find ways to show empathy and solidarity to our friends in Vietnam. Now is not the time to sell and after all, during our 3 years here we have had a fantastic time in Vietnam, people are so supportive of solar cause.
We understand Covid has impacted a lot of businesses. However, we have been lucky because we have limited overhead cost as a lean startup business.
“Money and profit come and go, but compassion stays in the heart and soul.”
However, one of our key commercial projects for a newly-built office in HCMC got delayed. We could have enforced continued installation but we think now is the time to support our clients and neighbours where we can. Money and profit come and go, but compassion stays in the heart and soul.
Also, Suntiki get requests to evaluate rooftops during Covid lockdown. And so we were faced with a tremendously difficult choice: Do we go get the project or decline the client request. As a startup, every project is critical to our business growth.
We took the painful decision to follow the lockdown rules and only consult the client over zalo. The reason is we have seen so many businesses sacrificing much more than us, and so now is the time for Suntiki to be in solidarity with Vietnam. People’s health and Vietnam’s common cause is much more important than company profit and revenue.
How do you look for any financial support from organizations, partners and the Government to survive the project?
We haven’t looked for financial support at all. But it made my day when the government announced to forfeit the yearly 2.000.000 vnd business tax for companies. Every support to reduce fees helps in the difficult Covid time.
Instead, we find ways for Suntiki Solar to support the worst hit poor people during this difficult period by donating to the rice ATM in District 3 HCMC. While our contribution is small compared to Covid impact, we believe our one small drop is one of many small drops that becomes an ocean of safety for the poor and vulnerable in Covid time.
Supporting people in need is a common concept in Vietnam. The lead example is Vietnam’s 100,000 masks donation to Sweden that is in need of good quality masks to prevent the covid virus outspread.
This is especially close to my heart since I am raised up in Sweden and still have friends and family there.
“We pay for a bowl of delicious phỏ and so we should pay for a kwh of clean energy.“
Government policy is key in making solar success story in Vietnam. This is sunshine clear message from the summer 2019 record sales. Every kWh solar energy from a proud rooftop solar power owner contributes directly to Vietnam’s growing economy and Vietnam’s cleaner environment. And so these have to be highly compensated to make solar work. We pay for a bowl of delicious phỏ and so we should pay for a kwh of clean energy.
Latest government policy of reducing solar park FiT rate is in the right direction. Because lower ground mount solar park subsidy will make investors focus on solar rooftop instead. Higher rooftop solar subsidy brings more benefit because solar panels right on top of electricity consumers is more efficient and will not burden the national grid lines like solar parks do.
“solar industry and Vietnam environment will thrive more if…”
Unfortunately, the latest Vietnam solar power policy (Decision 13/2020/QD-TTg on April 2020) will hurt the solar industry because it lowers the rooftop solar power FiT subsidy from 9.35$ cents to 8.35$ cents. It will make it more difficult for people who want to invest in rooftop solar power and contribute to an environmentally cleaner Vietnam.
So solar industry and Vietnam environment will thrive more if:
- Vietnam solar subsidy will increase more for rooftop solar power.
- the highly skilled oil and gas engineers in the struggling oil industry should be given opportunities to join solar industry.
And finally what is your future plan?
Suntiki Solar will continue our business plan to focus on rooftop solar panel for businesses and factories up to 5 MW. Our mission is to reduce their electric bill and increase their operational profit in a clean environmentally friendly sustainable way.
We had some very high profile potential clients before Covid lockdown and we hope after Covid situation we can resume the projects to make Vietnam a cleaner country.
We also follow the dire water drought situation in Mekong Delta that destroys local businesses and creates life threatening shortage of clean water in the region. We know this drought will continue for another 2 year due to climate change and hydrological conditions as reported by EVN.
“Suntiki to solve Mekong Delta water drought with solar desalination pilot project Vietnam!”
I have therefore begun to study the engineering solution of solar desalination reverse osmosis water filter powered by solar panels. This was a Tesla/ Solarcity solar project in a drought stricken area that used solar power to pump dirty water and filter to drinkable quality.
This topic is particularly dear to me since I am originally from Ca Mau, which is a city in Mekong Delta region. And I have experience with reverse osmosis water filter technology with Siemens Water Filter department in Norway and now can combine this with solar energy for Mekong Delta. But to be honest, we lack the investment required for a pilot project and so we would really appreciate interested party contact us to know more in details the possibilities to introduce RO water filter powered by solar panels for Mekong Delta water drought.
Thank you for reading.
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