Feature Story

Transforming the lighting market for sustainable development in Vietnam

December 14, 2017

Vietnamese fishing boat near Cham Islands, Vietnam
By 2030, it is predicted that Vietnam’s energy demand will increase to seven times 2010 levels. Through transforming its lighting market to one with room for energy-efficient alternatives, Vietnam is taking steps to find a sustainable development pathway and become a regional leader in green technologies.

Nearly one-third of Vietnam’s energy consumption is for lighting, with almost half of that going to the country’s highly populated rural areas. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project “Phasing Out Incandescent Lamps through Lighting Market Transformation”, implemented by UN Environment, has presented alternatives to inefficient incandescent light bulbs, which consume large amounts of energy despite their low initial price.

The project aimed to promote environmentally sustainable and efficient lighting technologies while also phasing out incandescent bulbs through removal of barriers for alternatives such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). CFLs last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs while also using up to 75% less energy. In recent years, LED lamps have been offering the same benefits with an even longer life span, and less reliance on polluting substances like mercury, which is often found in small amounts in many CFL bulbs. To address this, the project also sought to promote high-performance, non-polluting lighting, such as mercury-free CFLs. This was accomplished through developing capacity at a national level, as well as creating favorable market conditions for energy-efficient lighting.

To successfully transform the market, energy saving lamps had to be domestically produced and widely available. To achieve its goal, the project took a multi-pronged approach. A national policy framework for sustainable development of an energy-efficient lighting market was established, while at the same time, the capacity of the domestic energy-efficient lighting supply chain was increased to guarantee that market demand could be met. Additionally, a quality assurance system was put in place to ensure that energy efficient bulbs were produced and the reputation of these devices was not compromised. Finally, a consumer awareness campaign was undertaken to raise the population’s awareness of CFLs and their benefits.

As part of the consumer awareness campaign, GEF donated LED lamps to Đề Gi Fishing Port, part of the centrally-located Binh Dinh Province. Fishermen at this port were using metal-halide lamps for nighttime offshore fishing. The lamps, often found in clusters of 10-15 per boat, are powered by diesel generators and run for up to 11 hours at night. Because of their high-power consumption, these lamps require large diesel generators for power and are high greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters.

To show local fishermen what could be gained from energy-efficient lighting systems, LED lamps were installed on a total of 10 fishing boats. The LED lamps were roughly the same luminosity as metal-halide lamps and relied on the same power source, but with an energy consumption reduction ranging from 60 to 75%. Such systems could save a single boat roughly 5,000,000 Vietnamese Dong (USD $220) a day, as well as increasing daily yields since fishermen could point LED lights into the surface of the water. The positive results of the project served as motivation for the local population to switch to LED lamps, with fishermen offering optimistic reports of the LED lamps’ performance and increased safety.

A similar project implemented by the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) focused on Ninh Thuan Province in Southeast Vietnam, and was the basis for the intervention in Binh Dinh. This project focused specifically on the promotion of LED lighting systems on fishing boats to raise local awareness.

In this project, it was found that LED use resulted in lower consumption of diesel fuel, potentially allowing fishermen to use smaller generators on their boats. Additionally, the integrity of such systems was shown to be comparable to their metal-halide counterparts, with a damage rate of only seven percent.

As a result of the project, more than 60 million incandescent bulbs have been phased out and replaced by domestically produced CFLs. Additionally, the nationwide switch to more efficient lighting sources has resulted in GHG emissions reductions that contribute to Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Climate Agreement, which states that it will reduce GHG emissions by eight percent compared to business as usual.

Vietnam’s rapid growth has been accompanied by a commensurate increase in energy consumption. By 2030, it is predicted that Vietnam’s energy demand will increase to seven times 2010 levels. Through transforming its lighting market to one with room for energy-efficient alternatives, Vietnam is taking steps to find a sustainable development pathway and become a regional leader in green technologies. The push to reduce use of incandescent lamps has been widespread across Asia, with more than 40 countries phasing out inefficient light bulbs.


Vietnam is the host country for the upcoming sixth GEF Assembly meetings, which will take place in June 2018.