July 6, 2011
Source: China. Org
Coconut shells are providing an alternative source of fuel and jobs for some of Cambodia's poorest people. It's hoped the new green energy scheme will stop illegal tree felling across huge areas of the Cambodian rainforest in order to make charcoal.
Charcoal is the main form of fuel for millions of Cambodians. But producing it comes at a considerable cost to the environment.Campaigners have developed a green alternative to charcoal---coconut husks.
Started in January 2010, a non-profit company in the capital has been making fuel briquettes from the discarded husks. At the same time, the initiative is creating jobs for some of the country's poorest people.
Ly Mathheat, Executive director of Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise, said, "This project is addressing many of the big problems we have in Cambodia at the same time. We have a lot of poor people here, we are affected by the problem of climate change in the world, and we have a big problem with garbage in the streets, so we can address each of these together by making something everyone can use."
The briquette factory is set up next to Phnom Penh's municipal dump. All fourteen of the factory's workers are former garbage collectors. For them, the project has provided a lifeline.
Sokna, factory worker, said, "When they shut the dump, I wasn't able to collect garbage anymore, so I came here to look for work. The manager liked me and gave me a job. Working here I earn about $80 per month which covers my day to day expenses." The factory works with local coconut sellers to collect used shells. Once dried and crushed, the shells are carbonized in a specially designed burner.
Additional heat from the process is captured and reused to dry the briquettes, maximizing energy efficiency. The tubular shape of briquettes makes them more effective than traditional charcoal. They burn longer with no sparks, no smell and no smoke.
The company claims to prevent about 1,600 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere every year, while at the same time helping to preserve Cambodia's natural forests.