Boosting RE in privately-led rural electrification projects in Cambodia

Background

There are currently approximately 200 existing diesel mini-grids in Cambodia, and the same amount again will be needed by 2015. They often face very high production costs due to inefficient fossil-fuel powered generators and to the poor design of distribution systems. These constraints hamper the ability to increase energy access in the poorest rural areas.

There is huge potential for improving energy efficiency in these local distribution systems, and for injecting renewable energy into existing diesel mini-grids. Together, these measures could reduce production costs significantly and make the service affordable enough for the local population and for income generating activities.

In close collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy (MIME) and the regulatory authority (EAC), two pilot projects have been identified to demonstrate the positive effects of integrating EE and RE into local systems. These will serve as pilots for developing a policy and incentives framework for the country.

Purpose

To build two new power plants; one based on PV-diesel hybrid technology, the other one based on biomass - rice husk gasification; to demonstrate the positive effects of RE and EE on local mini-grids. Support the retrofit of the distribution systems, and extend the grid to the neighboring villages with identified potential consumers

Main Activities

  • Replace existing generators in two local mini-grids with efficient renewable solutions, e.g. a rice husk gasification plant in Char Chhuk and a hybrid PV/diesel plant in Chambak
  • Retrofit the distribution systems in order to bring losses to acceptable levels

Expected Impact

  • Improved energy efficiency in isolated mini-grids; currently running at approx. 40% technical losses
  • Increased of the use of renewable energy, with a PV share of 30% in the Chambak grid, and a biomass share of 80% in the Charchuk grid
  • Increased reliability of service 24/7
  • A 50% increase in number of customers achieved over 5 years, bringing additional services with social and economic positive impact
  • Decrease in end-user energy prices and generation costs of 30%, leading to improved financial sustainability for the local operator
  • Decrease in CO2 emissions per kWh of 50%
  • Tariff level achieved that allows productive uses such as irrigation, serving of telecom relays, cooling produce
  • Decreased dependence on  imported diesel
  • Demonstrated viability of hybrid systems to pave the way for national and large-scale replication
Programme sector: 

Renewable Energy & Business

Stage of project: 

Completed

Location: 

Cambodia

Duration: 

2012-2013

Budget: 

US$ 1,031,300 including co-funding from UNIDO, TOTAL Cambodia, TOTAL and IED Invest

Implementing agency: 

Innovation Energie Dévelopement (IED)