Demonstrating an innovative smartphone application to encourage energy saving by electricity customers

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.

ICom will create a smartphone application called Smart EVN that will support GVN policies to promote energy efficiency. The app will allow EVN customers to monitor their electricity consumption, receive advice about how to use electricity more efficiently, and earn points (convertible to prizes) by participating in energy-saving and rooftop solar (RTS) installation campaigns. Studies show that promoting energy savings via a smartphone app has resulted in impressive results in several countries.

Description of the Solution

Smart EVN will help EVN customers achieve energy savings by allowing them to:

  • View electricity consumption on a daily and monthly basis in the form of graphs. These will display their progress in kwh and Vietnamese dong.
  • Compare their electricity consumption with previous days and months.
  • Pay bills.
  • Earn points by participating in energy-saving campaigns and RTS installation campaigns. 
  • Use points and vouchers earned at participating merchants, including those related to healthcare, home appliances, food & beverage, etc.
  • Receive advice about electricity efficiency (based on big data analysis).
  • Receive estimates about the energy consumption of different home appliances (by entering the name, brand, time of usage etc.). 
  • Receive regular reminders and alerts about electricity consumption.

Pilot/Demonstration Activities

Pilot/demonstration activities relate to building the app and promoting its use through a communications campaign.

Build the app and its supporting architecture:
  • Investigate EVN HCMC’s server infrastructure, network system, and database. To build a mobile app allowing customers to view their electricity consumption and household account information, ICom will connect the app with EVN HCMC’s database.
  • Develop the Smart EVN app for iOS and Android users. This step includes working with EVN and other stakeholders to agree on the objectives and requirements of the app, and agree on functionalities and features. 
  • Develop campaign management modules. This step relates to the development and rules governing the rewards program, i.e. vouchers and points.
  • Develop a data analysis service. Based on collected data, the system can provide information about customer electricity consumption habits and help guide management decisions.
Build communication products:
  • This step will build communication products that promote the brand and encourage customers to download and use the app as well as participate in campaigns to save electricity and install RTS.