Tag Archives: environment

Kyoto could make rice milling waste cherished


Sara Veal

A leading Cambodian rice exporter is planning a $3.5 million renewable energy project that will earn credits under the global carbon-dioxide reduction scheme of the Kyoto Protocol.

Pending approval by the Phnom Penh municipal government, Angkor Rice will begin construction of the Angkor BioCogen (ABC) power plant in early 2006, with operations expected to begin by mid-2007,

The plant will produce clean energy by using rice husks to fuel a biomass generator. As a waste product of its milling operations, Angkor Rice is left with about 26,000 metric tons of rice husk each year. Energy produced by the plant would be used by the company and surrounding villages in Kandal province.

Adisom Chieu, the managing director of Angkor Rice’s ABC venture, said he hopes the company will be the first in Cambodia to benefit from the financial incentives of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

CDM is part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing developed nations to achieve part of their carbon-dioxide reduction obligations set out by the Kyoto Protocol through projects in developing countries.

“CDM is making this project possible,” Chieu said. “Although the money we will earn from selling carbon credits to other countries only equals 3 to 5 percent of the projected revenue, it makes the venture economically viable.”

Under the Kyoto Protocol, signatory countries must limit carbon-dioxide emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Because Cambodia already has low carbon-dioxide levels, it can afford to sell off carbon credits to developing countries, while still adhering to Kyoto Protocol standards.

A country earns carbon credits by reducing emissions into the atmosphere. One credit is equivalent to the reduction of one metric ton of carbon, which translates to between $5 and $10 depending on the company buying the credit.

Arul Joe Mathias, a biomass and CDM advisor for the EC-ASEAN COGEN Programme and also for the ABC project, is enthusiastic about the new power plant.

Mathias estimates that Angkor Rice will produce approximately 40,000 carbon credits per year, which the company can sell, potentially earning between $200,000 and $400,000 annually.

He has already been contacted by several multinational organizations that want to finance the environmentally friendly power plant and expects more interest as the project develops.

“People always say that Cambodia is not a good country to do business, but I think it is one of the best countries to do business [in energy],” said Mathias, who was worked with more than 100 CDM projects in the region. “The cost of energy in Cambodia is three times higher than in Thailand. That makes your investment three times more profitable.”

The Climate Change office within the Ministry of Environment has been working for two years to set up guidelines for CDM investment in Cambodia.

“CDM and carbon credits are a great way to get investment in developing countries for projects that reduce greenhouse emission,” said Bridget McIntosh, the CDM advisor at the Climate Change office.

McIntosh said the key to Cambodia benefiting from CDM is implementing projects that can improve long-term, sustainable development in Cambodia.

Suitable projects would use indigenous fuel sources and reduce local pollution.

For Angkor Rice, the project will not only earn them carbon credits and extra cash, but will also reduce the amount of waste material they produce and help the local community.

If the rice husks left over after milling were allowed to decay naturally, they would release methane – an environmentally destructive greenhouse gas – after four to five years.

By burning the rice husks, Angkor Rice will produce 1.5 megawatts (MW) of energy per day, which will power their rice mill and still leave 0.5 MW to supply to 19 local villages.

The existing supplier has already agreed to distribute the extra electricity, and the price will be reduced from the current 1,800 riel per kilowatt to 900 riel.


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Researchers tracking endangered scavengers


Sara Veal

Wildlife researchers have fitted satellite tracking devices to three critically endangered vultures in northeast Cambodia, giving boffins new insight into the habits of the large scavengers.

Birdlife International and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) trapped seven vultures in Chhep district of Preah Vihear province.

Of those seven, two slender-billed vultures and one white-rumped vulture were fitted with satellite transmitter units provided by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Birdlife in the UK). Two threatened red-headed vultures were also caught.

Samples were taken from all seven birds before they were wing-tagged, leg-banded and released.

“By fixing satellite transmitters and monitoring vulture movements, we develop a greater understanding of their range size, habitat preferences, and seasonal movements. This increased understanding of ecological parameters allows us to develop more effective, targeted conservation actions and management guidelines,” said Dr Sean Austin, manager of Birdlife International’s Cambodia Programme, in a statement released July 1.

Maps of the tagged vultures from May 2005 show that all three birds left the trapping area soon after capture and settled quite close to each other, approximately 80km to east.

Vultures are examples of what conservationists call “dispersed species”. They range at low population densities over large areas in search of food. The hunting of Cambodia’s wild ungulates has greatly reduced the availability of food for the vultures, forcing them to forage over wider areas, which in turn increases their vulnerability.

In addition to the slender-billed and white-rumped vultures, the Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) is presently considered critically endangered.

In India the population has decreased by more than 97% since 1993, and Pakistan is losing 30 to 40 percent of its vultures annually.

Research has revealed that these dramatic declines are caused by veterinary use of the drug diclofenac, widely used when treating livestock. If South Asian populations of these species diminish completely, only two small, wild populations of white-rumped and slender-billed vultures will remain, one in north Cambodia and southern Laos, and the other in Myanmar.


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