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Four solar projects approved

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
A solar farm in Svay Rieng province, in the country’s southeast. KT/May Titthara

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved four solar projects that will produce a combined 140 megawatts.

The body convened last week to review a raft of new laws and investment proposals, which included the four solar projects.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the government said the farms will all be located in different provinces – Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Svay Rieng – and that their production capacity will range from 20 to 60 MW.

These projects will start supplying the national grid by 2020 and 2021, it noted.

“Developments in solar energy are critical in dealing with the power shortage in the country,” the government said.

Keo Rattanak, director-general of Electricite du Cambodge, said last week that the country’s energy mix will change drastically in upcoming years.

“We will be able to produce at least 20 percent of our energy from solar systems in the next few years,” Mr Rattanak said during a forum on energy in Phnom Penh organised by the American Chamber of Commerce.

The goal is to diversify energy production, now largely dominated by hydroelectricity, which accounted for about 48 percent of all power consumed last year. Through this diversification strategy, the government hopes to put an end to the power shortages that have affected the country, Mr Rattanak said.

Speaking to Khmer Times in May, Sokun Sum, chairman of the Solar Energy Association of Cambodia, said Cambodia should focus on attracting investment in solar energy.

He said construction times for solar farms are lower than for hydropower dams, and with demand for electricity skyrocketing, Cambodia needs to build energy infrastructure as fast as possible.

He said up to five 60-MW solar farms can be built within seven months, while building a single hydropower dam can take up to five years.

“It has been brought up to our attention that power consumption in Cambodia has dramatically increased, mostly driven by construction projects. Therefore, investment in solar parks should go before hydropower, which now dominates domestic power consumption in the country,” he said.

In its statement last week, the government noted that the sector will soon have two new master plans. A strategy covering the years 2020-2030 is now being drafted by Japan’s Chugoku Electric Power, while another one for the years 2020-2040 is being drafted by Australian’s Intelligent Energy System.

Last year, Cambodia consumed 2,650 MW, a 15 percent increase compared to a year earlier. 442 MW were imported from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

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