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More Cambodian farmers are turning to solar to reduce farming costs and emissions

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More Cambodian farmers are turning to solar to reduce farming costs and emissions
Country: Cambodia
SWITCH to Solar

In Cambodia, an increased number of people is understanding the potential of switching to solar to meet the country’s energy shortage. Funded by the European Union, through the SWITCH-Asia Programme, and the Czech Development Agency, with its implementing partners, People in Need, EnergyLab and Sevea, the SWITCH to Solar project aims to promote sustainable consumption patterns in the Cambodian agri-fishery sector with a focus on agro-processing. The project connects local companies providing solar solutions to farmers and rural businesses in the agri-fisheries sector, creating a more dynamic renewable energy ecosystem, strengthening the market value chain, while fostering a more sustainable environment for clean energy in Cambodia.

SWITCH to Solar has so far provided technical support to nine local Solar Technology Providers (STPs) and start-ups. Since the project’s inception:

  • More than 1,000 tons of CO2 emission were reduced;
  • Nine supported solar companies sold products worth more than $1,400,000;
  • More than $800,000 external financing was mobilized for solar projects and investments into Khmer start-ups and STPs.

Start-ups and local solar technology providers have promoted their technologies to more than 3,000 Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the past years at events organised in targeted Provinces. Some of these include:

  • The provincial workshop on the solar technology dissemination for Agri-fishery where solar technology solutions have been introduced to potential Agri and Fishery MSMEs, and linkages have been created among the public sector, solar technology providers (STPs), micro finance institutions (MFIs) and MSMEs.
  • Small Group Meetings during which solar technology providers demonstrated the function and the benefits of their solar technologies to Agri-Fishery MSMEs.
  • Exposure visits to provide more details and information on solar technologies to the MSMEs who are currently using diesel or fuel machines. MSMEs met farmers who have already installed a solar technology, and who were in the position to share their positive experience with other farmers interested in switching to solar solutions.

 

    

 

Testing new solar technology solutions

SWITCH to Solar has also supported the creation of ten demonstration sites to test new solar technology solutions. Final evaluation reports for three demonstration sites have been produced to better understand the performance of the technologies and their impact on the commercial operations at each farm. A key metric in each report is a determination of a return on investment, an important consideration for farmers when deciding to switch to solar technologies. Below key report findings:
 

Harvest the Sun – Solar Dryer Dome installed at a fish processor. The medium sized processor was able to significantly reduce drying times which allowed for an increase in the number of fishes drying cycles, ultimately generating more profit (read more); 

SOGE – Solar Smart Cooling System at a hydroponic vegetable farm. Through the use of the Solar Smart Cooling System, the farmer was able to achieve optimal growing conditions over a longer period of time. This reduces vegetable growing cycles, improves seed cultivation, allows the farmer to grow during the dry season, and eliminates the need power the system through the national grid;

SOGE- Solar Smart Cooling System installed at a chicken production farm. The innovative solution, which uses a solar water pump to feed automated rooftop sprinklers as a cooling mechanism, cools internal chicken and hen house temperatures. Lower temperature reduces chick mortality and improve egg-hatching conditions.

All three demonstration sites illustrated appropriate returns-on-investment for each technology. The Reports will inform solar technology providers in their marketing efforts, and in the development of financial products in partnership with MFIs.

Deep Dive Analyses (DDAs) were also completed for ten prioritised solar technologies. These studies focused on several key aspects for each technology, including: appropriateness within Cambodia’s agri-fishery sector, target value chains, target farmer profiles, opportunities and challenges, and cost-benefits analysis. As an additional resource, a market sizing analysis was also developed for each technology for the five provinces in which the project is being implemented. These studies provide foundational knowledge for a variety of stakeholders, and have proven valuable to solar technology providers when making business development decisions.

What is next

SWITCH to Solar has already conducted two incubation programmes with local startups championing renewable energy solutions. 12 startups have been supported in establishing their business and prototyping their solar technologies, including a solar water pump, solar dryer, solar aerator, solar cold storage, and other solar solutions to help agri-fishery farmers and processors. Through the technical and business support provided, and seed investment grants received from Khmer Enterprise, these startups reported to have increased their sales, while the new established ones have successfully released their product to the market and made their first sales.

 

Several new activities have been planned for the upcoming months:

  • Two more demonstration sites will be selected and installed by end of July 2023;
  • Four studies regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the demonstration sites will be finalized by end of July 2023;
  • Six STPs and start-ups will finish the accelerator programme in August 2023 and be ready to scale-up their business;
  • At least 100 sales agents and retails will be trained by the project team and the STPs on how to sell their solar technologies;
  • Two studies will be shared in June 2023: Cold chain analysis within Cambodia’s Agri fishery sector to understand opportunities and challenges under the SWITCH to Solar Project, and a Cashew value chain analysis to understand the processing advantages under the SWITCH to Solar Project.

Through its activities and network, SWITCH to Solar is contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in rural areas of Cambodia by reducing the environmental impacts of MSMEs energy consumption and generating green employment opportunities.