Demonstrating cooling storage system technology for use in the commercial and industrial sector

Wednesday January 26th, 2022

USAID Vietnam Urban Energy Security Project

The USAID Vietnam Urban Energy Security project (2019-2023) works closely with the Government of Vietnam at the city, provincial, and national level to improve legislation related to clean energy, mobilize investment, and increase the adoption and deployment of innovative energy solutions.

The Innovation Challenge Fund (ICF)

The Project’s Innovation Challenge aims to fund 20 pilots and/or demonstrations of new products, business models, or financing models for advanced, distributed urban energy systems between September 2021 and March 2023. 

Advanced energy solutions exist in areas such as building efficiency, transportation, and electricity generation. These can contribute to the goal of greater urban energy resilience and energy security, however there is resistance to their uptake because 1) proof of concept has not been demonstrated, and 2) potential customers do not know solutions exist and are therefore unaware of the potential benefits.

Through the Innovation Challenge, the Project will support the piloting and/or demonstration of innovative ideas in Danang and/or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) with the potential to achieve scale and commercialization. 

Organizations that are registered in Vietnam, with bold ideas across the following categories will be encouraged to apply: transportation, building efficiency, electricity generation, electricity delivery and management, and water efficiency.

The Problem

Vietnam has a large range of domestic primary energy sources such as crude oil, coal, natural gas and hydropower. However, increasing demand for energy has meant Vietnam has been a net energy importer since 2015. Urban areas – the economic engines of the country – are the major sources of energy demand for buildings, industries, transport etc. National electricity consumption is expected to grow by 8 percent annually until 2035. 

In recent years, both the Vietnamese Government and the largest power company in Vietnam – Vietnam Electricity (EVN) – have taken steps to encourage energy efficiency by customers. There are still, however, limited options to help customers control their bills and energy consumption and to participate in energy saving activities.

The Solution

The Government of Vietnam (GVN) has put in place key policies to realize the energy efficiency potential in various economic sectors e.g., the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Law promotes efficiency in buildings, industrial and commercial sectors. In March 2019, Vietnam issued the Vietnam – National Energy Efficiency Program 2019-2030, with the objective of achieving the efficiency rate of 8-10 percent per total national commercial energy consumption.

In support of GVN policies to promote energy efficiency, Energy Saving Solutions Vietnam has developed a thermal energy storage (TES) system to efficiently cool buildings. TES is technology that allows the transfer and storage of heat energy or, alternatively, energy from ice or cold air or water. 

Description of the Solution

The Energy Saving Solutions (ESS) thermal energy storage system uses electricity power at night, when electricity tariffs are relatively low, to make ice. During the day, when electricity prices are relatively high, the ice melts, and the stored energy is released into the cooling system through heat exchangers. Customers can achieve significant savings by using low tariff electricity to cool their facility.

The technology is suitable for buildings with centralized cooling systems such as shopping malls, office buildings, hotels, factories, and hospitals. The greater the difference between high and low peak period electricity prices, the higher the savings and faster the pay-back period.

Pilot/Demonstration Activities

Identification of Potential Demonstration Sites

Through desk research, the team will identify three potential demonstration sites appropriate for the technology.

Information will be collected about the type of building, the type of air conditioning system in place, the size of cooling demand, the electricity pricing structure in place, etc.

Selection of Appropriate Demonstration Site

From the three potential sites identified in the first step, the team will select the most appropriate demonstration site based on the following criteria: the site is representative of other locations that are likely to benefit from the ice storage solution in the future; and the building is capable of cost savings of at least 15 percent per year through demonstrating the technology. ESS and the site owner will enter into an agreement.

On-Site Survey and Technical Proposal

A detailed survey of the demonstration site will be conducted. Data loggers – specialized electronic devices that measure and record specific data over a certain period – will be installed for two weeks to collect data including the amount of electricity used by existing cooling equipment. The best location for the placement of technology, that is least disruptive, will be identified. The team will prepare options for the site owner through a technical proposal.

Engineering and Installation of Technology on Site

Once the technical proposal has been agreed upon, the team will prepare detailed technical drawings including materials required and technical specifications. Materials will be purchased, and installation will proceed.


Data loggers will be installed to collect data about the technology e.g., energy consumed. Data will be documented and shared e.g., through reporting to the project team, thereby helping to determine the extent to which the technology is a success.