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Solar to make up 15 pct of local energy production by 2020

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
A solar farm in Kampong Speu province. EDC

About 15 percent of all energy produced in the Kingdom will come from solar panels by 2020, the government said yesterday.

Speaking during a press conference at the Council of Ministers, Keo Ratanak, director-general of Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), said Cambodia will be producing at least 390 megawatts from solar farms by next year.

A host of solar energy projects has been approved since earlier this year the country was hit by power shortages. Some of these recently approved projects will come online during 2019 and 2020.

“This figure of 15 percent includes solar projects in Bavet, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Batambang, and Siem Reap provinces,” Mr Ratanak noted. “Together, they will supply about 15 percent of the energy in the national grid by next year. It is a huge amount.”

Mr Ratanak said the government is now focusing on solar power because it is cheap to produce in Cambodia and has minimal impact on the environment.

“We are prioritising solar power because it is good for the environment. We want to integrate green energies into the country’s economic development strategy,” Mr Ratanak said.

“The aim is also to diversify. Relying on just one energy source is problematic.”

About 50 percent of all power produced in Cambodia comes from hydropower dams while 30 percent is produced from coal-fired facilities. The rest either comes from fossil-fuel-fired power plants or is imported, Mr Ratanak said.

“By 2020, Cambodia could be a leader in the region in terms of clean energy. This is our way of fulfilling our commitment to the Paris Agreement, which Cambodia is a part of,” Mr Ratanak said.

He said that energy demand during the first half of the year rose by 50 percent compared to last year’s H1. The rise is the result of an increase in construction projects and investment, he said.

Last year, Cambodia consumed 2,650 MW, a 15 percent increase compared to a year earlier.

The power shortage that the country faced this year has been attributed to a lack of rain. According to the government, rainfall was insufficient to keep the turbines of hydropower dams, Cambodia’s main power source, working.

The country now generates 80 MW from solar farms. There are two solar facilities online – in Svay Rieng’s Bavet and in Kampong Speu’s Oudong district.

Victor Jona, director-general of the department of mines, noted yesterday that the cost of producing solar energy in Cambodia is much lower than in many other countries. He said solar energy is now sold to the national grid at just $0.076 per kilowatt-hour.

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