Agricultural residue gasification for low-cost, low-carbon decentralized power: An empirical case study in Cambodia

John L. Field*, Paul Tanger, Simon J. Shackley, Stephan M. Haefele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Small-scale distributed gasification can provide energy access for low-carbon sustainable development, though current understanding of the economic and environmental performance of the technology relies mostly on assumption-heavy modeling studies. Here we report a detailed empirical assessment and uncertainty estimation for four real-world gasification power systems operating at rice mills in rural Cambodia. System inputs and outputs were characterized while operating in both diesel and dual-fuel modes and synthesized into a model of carbon and energy balance, economic performance, and greenhouse gas mitigation. Our results confirm that the best-performing systems reduce diesel fuel use by up to 83%, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and recouping the initial system capital investment within one year. However, we observe a significant performance disparity across the systems observed leading to a wide range of economic outcomes. We also highlight related critical sustainability challenges around the management of byproducts that should be addressed before more widespread implementation of the technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-624
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Biochar
  • Gasification
  • Lifecycle assessment
  • Rice husk
  • Rural electricity enterprise
  • Sustainable development


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