From cow dung to electricity – Kep, Cambodia

Today, I joined Florian and Aurélie, who are running the Rega Guest House (where I am staying) since one year, as well as Fred who is doing a few projects for Kep in particular helping the children and has been around also since one year.

We go to visit Sithon, who has installed an infrastructure in his backyard to transform cow dung into methane that he uses to cook and to light the kitchen.

First he puts every day in a well the dung of 2 cows, about 20 kilos of dung that he mixes with 20 litres of water. He mixes and mixes the two and this blend goes down in a pipe to a 3-metre diameter “oven” located below the ground in which this fermentation simply creates methane gaz.

When Sithon needs some methane gaz, he opens the pipe and the methane goes in it. Sithon can use his lighter in the kitchen to turn on the methane bulb which can lasts 8 hours and the stoves can be used to cook 3 meals a day for a family of seven.

Sithon explains us also that the usual Totalgaz container costs 25 dollars and lasts only 6 weeks. Installing this cow dung methane process cost him 400 dollars. That means it will take 96 weeks (1 year and 10 months) for Sithon to be breaking even with this project. This is not something every khmer can afford, you need to have a farm and the space to have this structure. You also need to possess cows and have the money or be able to borrow the money to install this, and 400 dollars is a lot of money for khmer people.

Fred tells me also that the blue pipe material used here is normally suitable only to carry water and should not be used to transport gaz.

Nevertheless, in a country like Cambodia where many people possess cows, this is still a fantastic opportunity to use cow dung in a useful way and save money in the long-term when possible.