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GE engines to power Cambodia’s first biomass plant

Cambodia’s first integrated biomass gasification project will be powered by GE gas engines.

GE (NYSE: GE) has signed a deal with Cambodian industrial conglomerate Soma Group to supply engines to the plant, which will be in the rural rice milling region of Kamphong Cham.

The project is the first to be implemented after GE and the Cambodian government signed a 2011 alternative energy development agreement to identify opportunities to use GE’s distributed power, Smart Grid and other solutions to meet the country’s energy challenges.

Indian technology company Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies is developing the biomass gasification facility for Soma Energy and it expected to be operational next year.

Rice husks will be converted into biogas, which then will be used in two GE VHP 5904 Waukesha engines to generate a total of a 1.5 MW of electricity.

Part of the power will support the rice mill’s operations while surplus electricity will be sold to the local grid.

Soma chief executive Sok Puthyvut said the plant will “serve as an important model for the region’s rice-milling industry and other agricultural sectors by showing how they can recycle more of their biomass, generate renewable electricity and make their mills more competitive by reducing their on-site energy and waste disposal expenses”.

The Cambodian government wants to supply electricity to every village by 2020 and to connect 70 per cent of the country’s households to the grid by 2030. Currently, only 50 per cent of rural villages have access to electricity and demand for power is growing at 25 per cent a year.