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US embassy shows off new solar installation

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
William Heidt (centre), the US ambassador to Cambodia, poses next to the solar panels. US Embassy

The US embassy in Phnom Penh marked Earth Day last week by introducing to the public its new solar panel installation which will eventually provide 18 percent of its energy needs.

According to William Heidt, the US Ambassador, this is the first installation of its kind on an embassy in the kingdom.

“We chose to do this project because we want to protect the environment that we all share. The US embassy is proud to have made this investment in Cambodia’s environmental future,” the ambassador said.

The installation, composed of 940 panels mounted on the building’s roof, came at a cost of nearly $1 million, and will save the embassy about $65,000 a year.

The investment will be recouped in less than 19 years due to savings in energy costs, Mr Heidt said yesterday.

Generating nearly 18 percent of the embassy’s energy needs, he said the installation could power 240 homes in Cambodia.

“Solar panels like these are an investment in the future. They help protect the environment and demonstrate that renewable energy investments can work in Cambodia.

“Cambodia is a very sunny country with a very large solar power potential. We hope this project will encourage other institutions to install solar arrays as well.”

Khut Chandara, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, applauded the initiative but expressed worries over the price of solar panels imported into the kingdom.

“We have seen that solar panels produced in the US and other countries are still expensive, so people are still unsure about investing on solar energy,” Mr Chandara said.

Bringing down the price of the equipment used in solar installations is paramount to attracting investors into the renewable energies sector, he said, adding that, despite the high costs associated with the technology, solar energy is gaining traction quickly in the kingdom.

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