The Rural Energy Project aimed to increase access to an economical and reliable energy supply of rural communities in selected provinces of Cambodia by expanding reliable grid electricity and improved cookstoves (ICS) supplies. The ICS, designed and optimized for use in the country by the Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity (GERES), were 20% more fuel efficient than the traditional, most used Lao cookstove.
The project’s outputs were: (i) expansion of the medium voltage and low voltage networks in Svay Rieng province by the Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) and provision of grid connections to households that did not have grid access; (ii) establishment of a manufacturing and distribution network for ICS in Kampong Cham province to promote the use of ICS in the province; and (iii) development of the regulatory capacity of Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), the independent entity responsible for regulating the country’s electricity sector. Support for the ICS component was implemented through the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME).
The project, which was funded by a grant from the government of Australia, was initially to be implemented by the World Bank. However, as the World Bank suspended new lending to Cambodia in August 2011, the governments of Australia and Cambodia requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to implement the project.
At grant closure, the medium-voltage and low-voltage networks in Svay Rieng province were expanded as planned and 8,273 household revenue meters were installed. At project completion review, the number of revenue meters rose to 10,500 and 88,000 of the total 131,000 households in the province, had a grid connection, compared to the outcome target of 21,460 households. The intended outcome on rural electrification was thus achieved.
The Kampong Chhnang model and the appraisal formulation focused on Neang Kongrey stoves (NKS) production. However, during the early implementation stage, GERES and the MME agreed that the project would promote the new Lao stove (NLS) as well as the NKS, as the NLS could burn both wood and charcoal, and charcoal is the preferred fuel in urban areas where wood was not readily available.
Out of 20 potential producers, 12 artisans were trained by GERES in ICS production, specifically the manufacture of the NLS. Following the formal training, GERES made a series of visits to the individual producers to help them consistently produce NLS of marketable quality. Two of the four facilitators recruited by GERES to facilitate production were women and 45 women retailers (100% of the available women) were mobilized to promote the ICS. By project-end, a total of 61 retailers were selling the ICS and the traditional cookstove. The sales were calculated to result in a reduction of 4,300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, just short of the outcome target of 4,400 tons, by the end of the project.
The project was unable to establish a local ICS manufacturing base as distribution channels for the supply of Kampong Chhnang product into Kampong Cham had already been established, and the artisans in Kampong Cham were unable to compete with the established manufacturers. Nonetheless, it was able to promote the benefits of the ICS designs in Kampong Cham and its ICS sales targets were substantially achieved.
EAC capacity development activities covered topics such as tariff design, solar and other non-dispatchable generation, renewable energy, and coal procurement and management of coal fired power stations. The coal procurement and management trainings were timely as the Sihanoukville 1 power station, the first coal fired power plant in Cambodia, commenced operation in early 2014.
EDC executed the project. Its Project Management Office 1 took charge of day-to-day implementation.