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Koh Rong Sanloem ready to build first solar power station

Jason Boken / Khmer Times Share:
Koh Rong Sanloem island set to have a solar power station built next month. Supplied

Work on a new solar power station is set to start next month on Koh Rong Sanloem Island.

The 1.25 megawatt (Mw) solar power project that was signed off this year will be constructed as two standalone solar based micro-grids that can provide electricity to the people and local businesses on the island.

The project on the island was set to start earlier this year but was delayed because of the COVID-19 lockdown. It is one such project among many across the Kingdom.

Koh Rong Sanloem is 25 kilometres (km) off the coast of Sihanoukville. It is around 9 km long, 4 km wide and 1 km wide at its narrowest point. It has a fast-growing population of 300.

The new solar power station is an investment by Total Solar Distributed Generation (DG), a wholly owned affiliate of Total, together with two other projects. The projects include solar power stations in Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia with a total power output of 52 Mw.

Gavin Adda, chief executive officer of Total Solar DG Southeast Asia, said: “For the Koh Rong Sanloem electrification project, solar is combined with power storage. This is an example of remote locations leveraging renewables to improve access to power and also cut costs. Southeast Asia has tens of thousands of islands, so we see integrating storage with solar as a great growth opportunity. We expect to start in September 2020 and hope to have the project completed by quarter one 2021. The completion date will be re-confirmed.”

Total Solar DG has been developing solar energy with a total power of about 600 Mw in Asia-Pacific countries, including the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and plans to achieve 1,000 Mw of solar power in the coming years.

Cambodia benefits from consistent sunshine year round, making it perfectly suited to solar power production. A 2016 Mekong Strategic Partners report estimated that the country has the potential to generate 700 Mw of electricity through solar power.

Local businesses on Koh Rong Sanloem have heard the news of the project. Business owners have high hopes that it will benefit everybody on the island.

Jake Scott owner of Bong’s Guesthouse, said: “It’s exciting to hear that renewables are finally making their way over to the islands of Cambodia. Currently we run off generators that are noisy and obviously emit pollutants into the atmosphere. I, personally, would be incredibly interested in the prospect of joining in renewable energy in the near future.”

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