Milled rice: with cogeneration, rice husks mean power.
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
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
"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