VIETNAM - Ba Be lake, where nature inspires technology
Being one in twelve initiatives funded by Bac Kan, Technical and Vocational Education and Training - Phase II-Project VIE/034 in 2019, the solar boat was a success. With the continuous support from Project VIE/034, upgrading from the solar car model, Mr Vu Xuan Nghia, teacher of Electrical Faculty at Bac Kan Vocational College (BKVC) has conducted the research and successfully assembled an electric boat powered by solar energy using photovoltaic cells. This solar boat is the first of its kind in Bac Kan province. It is now seen running on Ba Be lake, a famous tourist attraction nested in the majestic mountain ranges of the Ba Be National Park located in the Northeast of Vietnam. The lake has also been listed into the Tentative Lists of World Heritage nomination of UNESCO.
The ever-green Ba Be National Park
Ba Be lake was one of the most important reasons for Mr Nghia to make this solar boat. In 13 months of hard work, with frequent back and forth travel from Bac Kan city to Ba Be lake, upon facing any challenge, Mr Nghia always reminded himself the symbol that this boat would represent. The solar boat would be an excellent example of a new and green way to do business in tourism sector in Bac Kan province. He wanted to shift the thinking of conducting business into green and clean tourism and to help reduce environmental pollution starting in one of the most attractive places in Bac Kan and in the region. “I believe that a small action that could impact many people”, said Mr Nghia. Collectively, it would contribute to preserve the beautiful and richly endowed nature of the lake by removing the use of diesel and carbon emission which together are causing water and air pollution in the lake. Compared to the diesel boats that are widely used in the lake, the solar boat produces no carbon emission and has almost zero noise. For tourists, nothing is better than going around the largest fresh water body in South East Asia on a quiet and environmental friendly vessel. The boat has been tested by tourists in Ba Be and received the attention and excitement from them. Running at around 6 km/h, slower than the 25 km/h speed of the diesel counterpart, the solar boat gives the tourists a more leisured trip to fully capture the breath-taking scenes of the islands, the rocks, the water and the trees and to be completely absorbed in the nature that is more ancient than anyone of us.
The solar boat was received with excitement and enthusiasm at Ba Be lake
The environmental friendly yet tourist luxury goes hand in hand the with economic benefits. The solar boat has a slightly higher first-time investment cost by approximately 20 million VND compared to the diesel boat. But in the long run, the renewable solar energy proves to be superior than fossil fuel. Variable cost of a solar boat is much lower than diesel. Photovoltaic cells can last up to 18 years and the energy supply from the sun is endless. Boat owners can customize the speed of the boat, with an increase of 3 KW battery, the speed will increase by 20 percent.
Mr Nghia with his solar boat at Ba Be lake
The process of making this boat has been a tremendous learning journey for Mr Nghia and his students. For Mr Nghia, it was the chance for him to put into practice what he had been trained throughout the courses supported by Project VIE/034 on clean energy. His expertise has sharpened and his skills have been tested and upgraded with this initiative. Mastering the knowledge on clean energy and being able to transfer it to students is important, as a teacher of Electricity at BKVC. The learning lesson for both the teacher and the students is twofold. First, it instils and strengthens the awareness and responsibility for environmental protection by creating a product that serves the preservation of a place that is so close-to-heart. Second, making the boat is a valuable hands-on practice experience for the students where they were learning by doing. Students were very excited and enthusiastic in the process of making the boat. They had the chance to deeply engage with technology that is on-demand worldwide. They also carried an important mission of saving the nature that they are having. The initiative brought to them an upgrade to their vocational skills to serve with a purpose. Together with the country and the world, promoting the use of clean and green energy is crucial at both local and global level for the future of all lives on Earth. It should start from each individual, each student, each teacher and each school like BKVC.
Mr. Vu Xuan Nghia with his solar car
Going into the future, Mr Nghia hopes to make a second version of the boat which has a totally new body made of composite instead of iron in the current boat. He imagines that since the boat then would be lighter and leaner, it would definitely increase the speed range and aesthetically appear more appealing to tourists. The new version would be an excellent teaching tool for both Electricity and Tourism. And the practicality of it would make the dream of turning all the boats at Ba Be into solar closer to reach. Ba Be then, would become a place for people to visit not only for the spectacular sceneries but also for the pioneering work of using clean energy to develop green tourism in the region.
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