On September 23rd, 2020, British Consul General in Ho Chi Minh city, Emily Hamblin, visited the S Furniture factory in Bình Dương to see their large-scale solar rooftop, developed by Shire Oak International (SOI), in operation. Accompanying her was Shire Oak International (SOI)’s Founder and CEO Mark Shorrock and one of their EPC partners, Kingtek.
At the S Furniture Factory
Upon arrival, Consul General Hamblin was warmly greeted by Mr. Huỳnh Thanh Vạn, chairman of the board of S Furniture, and Mr. Nguyễn Thành Kỳ, CEO of the firm. The group had a brief meeting at the furniture maker’s office, during which S Furniture shared their development journey from their early days renting a 3,000 sqm factory with 100 workers to owning a vast 35,000 sqm factory complex employing more than 400 staff.
The visit marked the beginning of Mrs. Hamblin’s new term as the British Consul General and the S Furniture factory is the first local Vietnamese business to have the honor of welcoming her. Having witnessed first-hand the close cooperation between the two British and Vietnamese companies, she highlighted:
“It’s wonderful to see a UK firm and a Vietnamese business working together so closely for such a worthy cause! UK firms empowering local businesses is precisely how I envisioned a bilateral partnership to be.”
Mr. Shorrock congratulated S Furniture on their achievements to date and commended them on their decision to embrace the transition to renewable energy. He said their positive action is a clear signal to other manufacturers that S Furniture is aligning its profits with sustainable development.
In response, Mr. Van praised SOI’s service, stating: “The UK is one of our biggest export markets, so we know how meticulous their standards are. We appreciate Shire Oak International’s expertise and your impressive track record. That is why we entrusted to you the development of solar rooftops on our factories.”
In order to penetrate the UK and US market, businesses must audit their factories, and one of the key criteria is renewable energy sourcing. With S Furniture’s solar rooftop being the first renewable project in the South Tân Uyên area, Mr. Vạn says he hopes it will serve as an example for other local businesses to follow.
The chairman added that he is expecting Shire Oak’s comprehensive operations and maintenance (O&M) service to ensure the system stays trouble-free for many years to come.
After the meeting, Consul General Hamblin’s party toured the manufacturing and assembly hall, where they had a closer look at S Furniture’s rooftop solar system installed and managed by SOI.
At the end of the visit, Mr. Vạn expressed his gratitude for the British Consul General’s visit, adding that he looked forward to more visits like this in the future. S Furniture has been welcoming students and companies to come to its factory and learn how a business operates using renewable energy.
Climate change roundtable discussion
Returning from her trip to Bình Dương, Ms. Hamblin joined SOI for a roundtable discussion regarding climate change at the company’s office in Ho Chi Minh City. The group had a lively conversation about the future of renewables in Vietnam, a country blessed with vast potential for renewable energy.
The meeting was also attended by Ms. Lê Bích, Climate and Energy Attaché of GOP26, a part of the British Embassy in Hanoi. She delivered a presentation on the measures needed to tackle the effects of climate change, with a focus on increasing the use of renewable energy to lessen Vietnam’s reliance on non-renewable sources like coal.
It was also stressed that cooperation with local authorities is vital for meeting environmental targets. Besides providing a solid legal framework to support renewable energy development, authorities are advised to promote climate change awareness among businesses and the general public.
Ms. Trần Thị Ánh, SOI’s Transaction Associate, briefed the Consul General on the Vietnamese energy market, including suggestions and recommendations for a new solar rooftop feed-in-tariff (FIT). SOI’s Sales Director, Mr. Nguyễn Vũ, also shared his views on an ideal sustainable economy and how Vietnam has a chance to become a world leader in green development.
All in all, the SOI team demonstrated their preparedness for future developments in the solar energy sector. The firm says it aims to make renewable energy “the norm” for businesses and organizations throughout Vietnam.
Concluding the discussion, Consul General Hamblin expressed her appreciation to all those involved in organizing her program, saying:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. It was a really useful occasion to discuss the opportunities and challenges that businesses are facing and to understand how we can best support from the Consulate and Embassy.”