Soma Group, a major Cambodian industrial conglomerate, has selected Waukesha gas engine technology from GE (NYSE: GE) for a new rural, rice husk biomass to energy project, which will support a rice mill’s operation and sell surplus electricity to the local grid.

Located in Cambodia’s rural rice milling region of Kamphong Cham, the Soma Group’s Hak Se mill biogas project is the first integrated biomass gasification-gas engine solution designed to supply renewable electricity to the local grid in support of the country’s rural electrification goals.

The rice husk 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 renewable electricity.

The new power plant, which is being built by Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies Pvt. Ltd, an India-based leader in renewable energy technologies, is expected to begin commercial service in March 2013.

“Our new facility is expected to 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,” said Sok Puthyvut, Soma Group’s CEO.

By recycling rice mill waste into biogas to support the local grid, the SOMA Group project is supporting Cambodia‘s Rural Electrification Program that seeks 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 with demands for power growing at 25 per cent a year.

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