As Vietnam's premier economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City faces many serious environmental problems and demand for clean technology is huge, the city's environment chief has said.

"We are excited to learn from international partners in clean and environmental technology," Dao Anh Kiet, director of the city's Natural Resources and Environment Department, told the opening of a seminar titled "Swedish innovation contributes clean technology globally" on November 11.

Ha Minh Chau from the department's Climate Change Office said the city generated over 40 million cubic metres of wastewater and without efficient treatment, the waste has badly affected the quality of both surface and ground water.

There was also severe air and noise pollution, he said, while only a small portion of the solid waste was treated, with most of the rest being buried.

"To improve the situation, clean technology to treat environmental pollution and cope with climate change is imperative."

Harvesting rainwater was very important to improve water resources and reduce pressure on the sewerage system, he said.

Pham Ngoc Hoang, director of Hoang Ha Trading – Construction – Production Company, said renewable energy offered private businesses a new business opportunity.

"Renewable energy will help mitigate problems like burgeoning population, increasing energy use, volatility in the prices of oil and oil products, rising fuel consumption and falling output, and use of coal for electricity production."

Vietnam has a lot of potential in renewable energy. Its 3,400km of coastline is conducive for generating wind energy with a potential annual capacity of 500 – 1,000kWh per square metre; its 1,400-3,000 hours of sunshine annually offer huge solar energy possibilities; 60 million tonnes of biomass are generated from agricultural waste.

The country also has the potential to produce 10 billion m3 of biogas each year.

Agricultural by-products like rice husk, wood chips, straw, and urban waste were all renewable energy sources, Hoang said.

But the biggest challenge for the industry is the high cost of production and technology, which is exacerbated by the difficulty in obtaining finance.

The lack of surveys on natural resources — including their measurement and evaluation – and the dependence on weather are other difficulties.

"We need assistance from the Government and investment from international organisations to develop the [renewable energy] industry," he said.

At the seminar, Swedish companies like Blab Sweden, WTM, and Urban Waters offered many solutions that have been successfully applied in their country to recycle water.

"This is a good chance for the two nations' enterprises to exchange experiences in research, cooperate in clean technology development, and find sustainable ways to treat nature," Annika Rembe, director general of the Swedish Institute, said.-VNA