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We estimate that there are 2.7 million households in Cambodia cooking with biomass, the majority using traditional Lao stoves. Rural Cambodian households use kerosene lanterns for lighting, and are unlikely to be able to charge their phones at home, despite the proliferation of smartphones in recent years. This represents a critical financial burden. Due to the inefficiency of commonly used items such as batteries, candles, kerosene, and charcoal, rural consumers spend a disproportionate amount of their monthly household expenditures on thermal energy and basic electricity/lighting, trapping them in a poverty cycle where small incremental purchases have a high premium. Traditional cooking methods also contribute to the deterioration of ecosystems as they require a lot of biomass, aggravating deforestation. The clean cooking and off-grid energy sectors in Cambodia are small and diffuse, there is a need for modern, affordable, and sustainable solutions for accessing energy.
The ACE 1 is a high-tech cookstove that reduces energy expenditures significantly. In a field test conducted by Berkeley Air Monitoring Group, the ACE 1 reduced woodfuel used by at least 52% compared to traditional stoves in Cambodia. It also comes distributed with a pico PV solar panel that apart from charging the stove's battery, offers free electricity for phone charging and LED lighting. In an industry-wide analysis of cookstove costs over time, Chatham House found that the ACE 1 is the most affordable advanced cookstove in the market in terms of annualised costs. Retail price is $100+, and ACE extends credit lines to customers. The typical repayment plan is 9 months in duration, but the stove is received immediately on contract signing, meaning that the repayments can be offset by the energy savings gained while using the stove.