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NGOs praise solar energy push

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
The government is aiming to increase electricity generated by solar panels to 20 percent of national output by 2023. Fabien Mouret

Six non-governmental organisations on Tuesday praised the government’s decision to increase electricity generated by solar panels up to 20 percent of national output by 2023.

The organisations included the NGO Forum on Cambodia, 3s Rivers Protection Network, My Village, Culture and Environment Preservation Association, Fisheries Action Coalition Team and OXFAM.

In a joint statement, the organisations noted that in 2018, the Kingdom’s proportion of national energy mix from solar power was less than one percent.

It added that the government’s decision reflects the findings of a Mekong River Commissions’s study in 2017 that recommended member countries to maximise renewable energy, including solar, in order to reduce dependency on hydropower dams.

Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, in the statement expressed his congratulations to the government on its decision.

“I think this plan will respond to a recommendation of MRC’s council study that member countries should consider other new technology energy sources, including from solar and wind energy that has potential capacity in the region in order to reduce dependency on hydropower,” he said in the statement.

The statement added that the government’s decision is also in line with a national strategic development plan on developing a regulation framework on renewable energy, specifically to contribute toward climate change mitigation by 16 percent for the energy industry by 2030.

It noted that countries in the Mekong region, including Cambodia, had suffered from El Nino phenomenon in early 2019 that caused the country to face a significant shortage of electricity and daily blackouts, especially during the recent dry season.

It said that the challenges were caused by the government’s extreme reliance on electricity generated from hydropower dam.

“The government should take this lesson learnt into consideration and should find other alternative options that will generate less impacts on social and environmental in order to reduce dependency on hydropower,” the statement said.

Courtney Weatherby, a research analyst at Stimson centre, said that Cambodia’s plan could be possible as the government has recently approved several projects which have a total capacity of more than 100MW.

“In the accumulation with the existing 10MW project in Svay Rieng province and 80MW of solar plant in Kampong Speu and a plan to construct a 120MW in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat which have been approved, I think it is possible,” she said in the statement.

Victor Jona, director-general of the General Department of Mines and Energy, yesterday said that the government’s decision to increase the proportion of solar energy to 20 percent is still in its very early stages.

However, he noted that Cambodia nevertheless continues to increase its usage of solar energy, adding that the proportion is currently up by more than 10 percent already.

“So, in 2020, we will have about 15 percent from solar energy, and we will continue to further increase that number,” Mr Jona said.

He added that currently, solar power connected to the national network generates about 400 megawatts. In some rural areas, some homes, companies, and factories also use small solar panels.

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