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Energy efficiency is a foundation for sustainable growth

Dinh Hiep
Friday,  Dec 30,2016,00:46 (GMT+7)
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Energy efficiency is a foundation for sustainable growth

Dinh Hiep

Tommy Leong, East Asia and Japan Zone president at Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, together with the Schneider Electric Foundation, DEG, a subsidiary of the German Development Bank, and ASSIST, a non-governmental international capacity building organization, opened the “Green Electrician” lab at Ly Tu Trong Technical College in HCMC on November 15. The lab will be used to train young people within the framework of the “Green Electrician, Education in Electricity for Employment” project which aims to improve vocational training in the energy industry in Vietnam. The project focuses on technical and vocational education in electricity, sustainable energy management and entrepreneurship. The training programs are designed for local youths to help them obtain job opportunities. From a state-of-the-art facility, at least 500 students are expected to get hands-on experience in energy training a year. Tommy Leong, East Asia and Japan Zone president at Schneider Electric, spoke with The Saigon Times Daily over the program. Excerpts:

The Saigon Times Daily: Could you explain the “Green Electrician” concept? Does the project aim at solving two major problems faced by Vietnam’s power industry – energy shortage and vocational training?

- Tommy Leong: First, I need to mention Schneider Electric’s brand strategy “Life is On”, which means life is only “on” if energy is “on”. People only have a quality life with sufficient energy and electricity supply. However, approximately 1.2 billion people worldwide cannot have access to energy and one billion others can only access unreliable energy sources. Second, the growing global population and the fast pace of urbanization have resulted in higher demand for energy, hence power shortages can happen anywhere. So, on one hand, we want to bring energy to more people and, on the other hand, we must reduce energy consumption or increase efficiency. This is not just for Schneider Electric, but a global challenge. To help deal with this, Schneider Electric has a vision to help people get access to reliable power sources and use energy in an effective, safe and sustainable manner.

At Schneider Electric, we operate in all aspects of energy management. We understand that it’s people that play the key role in making safe, efficient, reliable and sustainable use of energy. And when you look at the entire energy value chain, the electrician plays a very big role in making sure that people, especially those living in remote areas, get access to energy. Through our training of new-generation electricians, we hope to help them get both knowledge and basic skills in electrical management so that they will bring electricity to projects and households as well as implement energy solutions efficiently. At the same time, we want to teach them how to be “green” when using energy, because “green” is a concept the world is striving for. It represents sustainable development, environmental protection and effective operations.

Has Schneider Electric launched corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects of this type in other countries? Will you bring other CSR projects to Vietnam?

With state-of-the-art facility at the new lab, each year a minimum of 500 students are expected to get hands-on experience on energy training

- Schneider Electric has developed CSR projects in any markets, especially developing countries like Vietnam. The projects are designed differently, of course, to perfectly fit each market. CSR projects in Vietnam are one of advanced programs that we have implemented so far, since our local team and partners have shown great passion and interest in our initiatives. In Vietnam, we have given equipment support to open automation and energy management laboratories at Hanoi University of Technology, HCMC University of Technology and Can Tho University. However, the “Green Electrician” Lab at Ly Tu Trong Technical College is the first one in Vietnam that Schneider Electric directly set up and has participated in running vocational training courses. Its outcomes will be a foundation for us to launch the model in other areas.

Besides, we have been working on another CSR program in Vietnam to give Mobiya solar lamps to households in mountainous or remote areas without stable access to electricity. This is part of a regional program titled “Light It Up” to support some rural areas in Asia Pacific countries. In December, Schneider Electric will also give Mobiya lamps to Khmer households in Tan Loi village in An Giang Province. Last year, we launched a similar program for Ta Phin villagers in Lao Cai Province.

Schneider Electric has been mentioning sustainability regularly. What is Schneider Electric’s viewpoint on sustainability?

- Schneider Electric now ranks ninth in the world and first in the energy industry for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. This is the result of our operations, CSR projects and green products in all markets we have tapped. After all, sustainability is not only social responsibility programs. It should be engrained in the corporate culture, business model, core values, products and solutions. 

What are the challenges in promoting sustainability in Vietnam?

- Vietnam has seen annual growth of 10% in energy demand for industrial development and urbanization. Unreasonable energy production will cause heavy pollution. As a latecomer, Vietnam will have several advantages, such as drawing on experiences from other countries, learning from their mistakes and choosing the best solutions. Sustainable growth requires not only clean energy supply but also effective consumption. In general, Vietnam needs to launch a master plan for energy management with climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental protection taken into account.

What should the Vietnamese Government do to encourage energy efficiency?

- Not just policies, the Government should issue specific standards on energy use aiming at raising awareness among enterprises and citizens. Let’s look at the biggest electricity consumers. It’s not you and me, but factories, industrial zones, high-rise commercial centers, hospitals and shopping malls. They use electricity mainly to run air-conditioning and lighting systems. As per our calculation, hardware and software energy solutions, when implemented properly, can help factories and high-rise buildings become 60% and 80% more energy-efficient, respectively.

Reported by Dinh Hiep

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