Grid Connected Solar
Kamworks, established by Dutch solar engineers in 2006, was the first solar company to install grid connected solar in Cambodia. That project was 115kW at a Don Bosco technical school in Sihanoukville, completed in 2014. Even today, this is the only grid connected solar project for which nett-metering (https://www.seia.org/initiatives/net-metering) has been officially permitted in Cambodia. Today, under the regulatory framework provided by EAC, most new solar installations in Cambodia are grid connected.
Solar rooftop on high-riser in Phnom Penh 2017.
What is grid connected solar?
In case of grid connected solar (also called grid-tied solar), the solar panels are connected to the electricity grid through an inverter. In such a case, no batteries are needed to store the electricity, but the electricity flows directly into the electric installation in the building, or into the grid if that is permitted. The solar panels are usually mounted on the roof of a building (rooftop solar <link down>), on available land (solar farm <link down>) or as a solar carpark <link down>). As electricity tariffs are high in Cambodia, today, solar energy is often competitive to grid electricity.
Grid connected solar has 3 main advantages:
- firstly, it is a quiet and clean source of electricity: no exhaust fumes or greenhouse gases are emitted.
- Secondly, grid connected solar is competitively priced compared to the electricity from the grid: solar installations have short payback times. And, with solar panels becoming ever cheaper, solar energy step by step becomes feasible for everyone!
- Grid connected solar is simple: it is easy to install and has a long life.
Kamworks is authorized dealer of the best suppliers international of solar components, extends the EOM warrantee (https://www.pv-tech.org/guest-blog/pv-module-warranties-separating-fact-from-fiction) to its clients, and provides excellent maintenance and service.
Watch our video’s here: (CWKH video, and kamworks corporate video on youtube channel)
Kamworks solar rooftop project on a flat roof. Panel mounting was ballasted in order to avoid drilling in the roof.
Cambodian regulations for grid connected solar
In February 2018, Cambodia’s regulator EAC (https://eac.gov.kh/site/index?lang=en ) issued its new solar regulation for Cambodia. With this regulation, grid connected solar becomes legal for a number of specific cases. The solar electricity produced has to be for self-consumption and specific technical requirements and procedures need to be followed. In such cases, a special tariff, comprising of a capacity charge and kWh charge applies
Grid connected solar for self-consumption
Under the current regulation, only solar installations for self-consumption are permitted. This means that the electricity that is generated, must be used on the premises. There is no feed-in tariff and solar electricity cannot legally be fed into the national grid (http://www.edc.com.kh/regulation.php?lvl=0&&type=regulation ). When designing a solar installation for self consumption it is important to do a proper load assessment for optimal sizing. This starts by installing special measurement equipment for taking the load curve at the client, followed by simulations of the future solar power plant. Also, while designing the solar installation it is essential to select the right electronic equipment to prevent grid feed-in in cases of surplus solar electricity.
Solar rooftop systems for garment factories, hotels, hospitals etc.
The most commonly way to mount solar panels in Cambodia is on a roof, thus utilizing unused space. Solar rooftop systems are also very competitive as there is no land acquisition cost and (elevated) roofs are likely free from shading by trees. Solar rooftop systems produce electricity right where the demand is, contrary to solar farms that require large investments in infrastructure (https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc/articles/2014/05/centralized-solar-energy-versus-captive-solar-power-why-small-is-big-in-solar.html ). In Cambodia, under the current regulations <link above>, it is allowed to consume the solar electricity generated on your own roof for most medium and large electricity consumers.
When designing a solar rooftop, Kamworks engineers take into account the budget, size and construction of the roof, possible shading and the amount of power consumed on site. Therefore, most projects start with an assessment of the clients’ power consumption. In addition, a suitable roof mounting structure needs to be selected that can withstand the wind load (https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/print/volume-18/issue-4/features/solar/ensuring-your-solar-array-doesn-t-get-caught-in-the-wind.html) at the specific location. Special care is taken to protect the clients’ roof from damage.
Cambodian garment factories
The garment industry in Cambodia faces the challenge of providing adequate working conditions for the many thousands of workers in its factories. Over heating and subsequent faintings are a serious concern in Cambodia. Proper ventilation is essential in order to keep the temperatures in these factories acceptable. Installing solar panels on the (mostly metal) roofs serves 3 purposes for a garment factory: 1) it reduces the electricity consumption of the factory and thus lowers the operational cost; 2) it shields the roof from direct sunlight, therefore reducing the warming of the roof and the factory interior; 3) international clothing brands increasingly require their suppliers to ‘go green’. A solar rooftop installation helps garment factories to reduce their carbon footprint.
Kamworks solar installation on a garment factory, 2018. Kamworks engineers used a panel mounting system that did not require drilling any holes in the roof.
Solar parking spaces
Car parks and motorbike parking spaces are also suitable locations to generate solar energy. The advantage of a solar car or motorbike parking is evident: the solar panels provide shade for the vehicles that are parked below them. In addition, the panels will shelter the drivers from rainstorms during the rainy season.
Solar parking spaces can be designed to look attractive.
If large amounts of solar electricity are required and there is no sufficient suitable roofspace available, a solar farm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaic_power_station) can be considered. With solar panel prices continuing to drop, this type of utility scale solar projects (https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-does-utility-scale-solar-really-mean)
are becoming more and more attractive. In such projects, solar panels are generally mounted on a concrete or metal structure (ground mounted). For such an application Kamworks engineers carefully consider the soil type, flood risk while selecting the mounting structure. In addition, during the feasibility phase, they consider inverter options, plant layout and cabling, panel cleaning options, power evacuation from the site, as well as any land issues, environmental, social or security concerns.
As available land will become increasingly scarce, floating solar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_solar) is already being considered more and more, esp. in locations with high land cost. Already today, Kamworks is receiving request for quotations for floating solar installations in Cambodia. Kamworks Dutch solar engineers, born in a country that partly lies below sea level, have a special affinity with this application of solar energy. Kamworks is working with the worlds’ leading suppliers to offer floating solar installations in Cambodia.
A prefeasibility study (https://energypedia.info/wiki/Solar_Pre-feasibility_Report) is a first analysis that is undertaken to determine whether it would be worthwhile to proceed to the feasibility study (https://energypedia.info/wiki/Feasibility_Studies_for_PV_Self-supply_in_Chile) stage. When planning large solar installations, a feasibility study is commonly required to evaluate the project risks, challenges and economics. During the feasibility phase, a first plant layout is made and the project site is evaluated for all kinds of risks such as flood risk, soil issues, lightning, dust, shading, social aspects (land rights, dual land use (http://www.appropedia.org/Dual_use_of_land_for_PV_farms_and_agriculture_literature_review) and resettlement), security. In addition, power evacuation options need to be assessed and preliminary costed. Operational cost need to be estimated and a due diligence needs to be done on the IPP contract (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_purchase_agreement) , fiscal aspects and land (lease) contract.
Financing for grid connected solar systems
Kamworks often finds that solar project financing is required by its customers. However, financing options for solar are still rather limited in Cambodia. What financing is available for your solar project depends on a number of factors: size of the investment required and whether it is off- or on-balance sheet, (perceived) financial risks, duration and tariff (in case of a power purchase agreement or PPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_purchase_agreement)), technical and other risks of the project, etc etc. As operational cost of solar energy projects are low, both low construction as well as low financing cost are essential to make projects competitive. Kamworks understands this well and has the expertise to make it happen.
Engineering, Procurement, and Construction or (EPC) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering,_procurement,_and_construction) is the most common form of contracting arrangement used in Cambodia for solar energy projects. In such ase, Kamworks is responsible for all the activities from design, procurement, construction, to commissioning and handover of the project to the client.