Aquaculture sector helped to use sustainable clean energy

Cambodian company EnergyLab is cooperating with a series of other domestic firms to facilitate a change to green energy for the aquaculture sector.

ATEC Biodigesters, Sevea Consulting, CHAMROEUN Microfinance Plc and People in Need Cambodia, a humanitarian group, are encouraging businesses in those areas to use what is called a SWITCH to Solar programme.

The project aims to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Tonle sap region by providing them with the correct equipment to improve their crop quality and quantity and use clean, sustainable energy. By the end of the project in May 2024, they plan to have helped up to 9,000 agri-fishery MSMEs.

During the programme, they intend to work with 20 local solar technology suppliers, 15 financial intermediaries and create 70 market channels.

The project is funded by the European Union through the switch-Asia grants programme and co-financed by the Czech Republic Development Cooperation.

Savea and People in Need assist solar technology suppliers in improving their business channels and business modelling. Their products will be marketed to agri-fisheries and be provided with information from the extensive market research conducted by the project partners.

Solar Green Energy is one of the solar technology suppliers partnered in the SWITCH to Solar project. According to Kheav Thida, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Solar Green Energy (Cambodia) Co Ltd, partnering up with the SWITCH project has been beneficial to the company. Thida said: “They help us on brand awareness and marking development. They will help us to increase… 30 percent on our sales goal. They train us on digital marking design content on Facebook and help to boost a page, make a video advertisement.”

She added: “They also link us to other investor or bank support and provide some strategy on business development.”

Cecile Dahome, co-founder and CEO of Sevea, a Cambodia-based development consultancy, said: “Since 2015 we’ve been working with solar companies and renewable energy companies in trying to help them raise funds both to grow their business but also to provide end-user financing.

According to Dahome, there are several significant benefits and challenges when switching over to solar. They include limited grid dependency, reduced power outages, offsetting the high energy costs and lower climate change impact. The challenges are the high initial cost for the investment, availability, competitively with non-solar options and a continuous stream of energy, such as when clouds onbscure the sun. This project will help to overcome these challenges by assisting MSMEs with access to loans, supplying and facilitating the switch to solar and using batteries to overcome the lack of continuous stream.

The potential technology solutions they are currently exploring are solar water pumps, solar power grinders, solar power cold storage, evaporative cooling, solar egg incubators, solar power hydroponics, solar dryers, solar smart farm assistance, solar cricket incubators and solar aquaculture air blowers.

The project also includes an ATEC-provided biodigester tank. These tanks have two main options: to create a liquid fertiliser and to supply flammable gas for cooking equipment. Nikolai Schwarz, country director of ATEC Cambodia, a supporter of the agriculture sector, said the fertiliser improves yield for rice and vegetable farmers by 10-30 percent.

The biodigester tank runs on a pay as you go system. ATEC does a complete installation and charges the users $30 per month without any collateral. The monthly instalment will continue until the total amount of $810 is paid. The user then starts to save money using this self-sustaining equipment with no penalties if they desire to return it.