Röthlin, B. E. (2019). Mini-grids go green: an economic viability assessment of integrating renewable energy into off-grid Diesel power systems in Cambodia - a case study on Koh Rong Island [Master Thesis, Technische Universität Wien]. reposiTUm. https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2019.66875
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Diesel-fuelled mini-grids have become one of the main tools of supplying electricity to rural or off-grid areas in many African and South-Asian countries due to their ease of installation and the low initial investment required. However, these systems often bear high long term and large environmental costs. This thesis therefore assesses, by means of a case study on the Cambodian island of Koh Rong, whether it is economically viable to hybridize existing diesel-powered mini-grids with renewable energy technology, in particular solar photovoltaic, and if hybridization could lead to a reduction in cost of electricity. Moreover, it discusses whether such a hybridization project could offer an attractive investment opportunity for private investors. For this purpose, a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) analysis is carried out, comparing the electricity generating costs of the existing diesel-powered mini-grid with those of a diesel-PV hybrid system for two ownership structures, namely a tax-exempted public utility and a tax-paying independent power producer. First, an overview of the Cambodian electricity sector is provided and the appropriate technologies regarding diesel and hybrid mini-grids are reviewed. Further, an introduction to LCOE analysis, on which this work is based, is given and the input variables required for the LCOE calculations are discussed. Finally, the calculation results are presented and eventual barriers for the deployment of renewable energy in Cambodia are identified. It is found that hybridizing existing diesel mini-grids on Koh Rong island can lead to electricity generation cost reductions of up to 9.9% and hybridization projects can present attractive investment opportunities for equity investors. However, despite the economic viability of hybrid mini-grids, non-economic barriers, such as the lack of a profound regulatory framework, might inhibit the larger deployment of renewable energy technologies in Cambodia.