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Cogeneration: a case study in friendly energy

Cogeneration: a case study in friendly energy

CDM.jpg
CDM.jpg

Milled rice: with cogeneration, rice husks mean power.

A

rice mill on the outskirts of Phnom Penh looks set to be the first business in

the country to implement cogeneration, an environmentally friendly mechanism for

producing both heat and electricity from a single fuel source.

Angkor Rice is the only business to have applied for a European Commission (EC) grant

to develop a demonstration project for the technology. If all goes to plan, the factory

will implement cogeneration next year.

Using surplus rice husks for fuel, the cogeneration plant will burn the husks to

produce super-heated steam. That drives a turbine, which produces electricity. The

heat from the stream is used to dry the rice.

With these green credentials, the state-of-the-art mill could be just the project

to showcase the merits of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Hing Kunthap is the country coordinator for the COGEN 3 project, the initiative by

the EC and ASEAN to promote cogeneration in the region. He said the technology produces

only half the carbon dioxide emissions of a conventional diesel engine.

"Cogeneration is very good for energy conservation and is a CDM project [because

it] addresses climate change issues," he said. "We use bio-mass, which

is in itself a renewable energy. Using bio-mass, cogeneration is super-clean."

The demonstration project should receive a grant of up to 400,000 euros on condition

the company uses suppliers from the European Union. Angkor Rice has submitted its

application to COGEN 3, and expects to hear back in May.

Both Hing Kunthap and Angkor Rice chief executive officer Chieu Hieng are confident

the project will go ahead.

"The least I will have to wait is one year, but the sooner the better,"

said Hieng. "I have a lot of visitors. University students and guests of the

Cambodia government come to my rice mill. When you add cogeneration it will be even

better."

CDM investment from abroad may be needed to help cogeneration take off on a large

scale, as start-up costs are high. Kunthap estimated it would cost $2 million to

implement cogeneration at Angkor Rice.

And the high initial investment is not the only barrier. Energy professionals said

the lack of organization and knowledge within the target market could hinder its

implementation.

"It is new technology and rice millers have never seen it work before, and they

worry about implementing this," said Rin Seyur, senior manager at Small and

Medium Enterprise Cambodia. He added that the expense involved meant the technology

was only appropriate for large-scale operations.

Kunthap explained that hospitals, hotels and large factories could find the technology

useful. Worries about the expense, he said, would be quashed by the predicted quick

return on investment. His main concern is government red tape, which he described

as the "Achilles heel" of the process.

"There are Cambodians who want to invest, but they don't have enough security,"

he said. "The biggest [barriers] are the rules and regulations set up by the

government."

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