The Lower Sesan II Dam hydropower plant will start generating 50 megawatts of power by October this year, according to a senior government official.
Energy Ministry director general Victor Jona said the dam will be capable of generating 400MW when it is fully operational in 2018.
He said work on the project is nearly four months ahead of schedule, which means one of the eight turbines at the plant will go online in October.
Testing for the closure of the water gate there will begin on Saturday, while Prime Minister Hun Sen will preside over a ceremony to officially close the water gate on September 25.
The construction of the Lower Sesan II Dam in Stung Treng province is about 90 percent com-plete and should be finished by the end of the year.
“Demand for electricity is increasing about 15 percent year on year, so we have to develop our energy production year on year as well. We have a master plan for energy supply until 2030, which will involve building more coal plants and hydropower dams,” Mr Jona said.
He added the energy sector creates lots of jobs, both directly and indirectly.
The $800 million Lower Sesan II Dam is 80 metres tall and covers a 36,000 hectare plot. The Royal Group of Cambodia owns a 39 percent stake, while Chinese company Hydrolancang In-ternational Energy holds 51 percent and Vietnamese firm EVN has 10 percent.
According to government predictions, the dam could generate tax revenue about $30 million per year when it goes fully operation. The power plant will be transferred to government after being operated by the private sector for 40 years.
Mr Jona said demand for electricity in Cambodia is now 2,000MW. The Lower Sesan II dam will eventually contribute to about 20 percent of total electricity consumption.
He added there are six hydropower plants now operating with a total installed capacity of about 928MWs. They provide about one-third of all electricity generated in the country.
Mr Jona said coal-fired power plants have an installed capacity of 370 MWs and contribute about 37 percent of current power supplies.
After the Lower Sesan II Dam goes online, Cambodia will be able to reduce its reliance on pur-chasing power from neighbouring countries by about 10 percent, he added.
Mey Kalyan, senior advisor to the government’s Supreme National Economic Council, said that to diversify Special Economic Zones, Cambodia needs quality electricity to supply businesses and achieve the government’s Industrial Development Policy.
“Quality electricity means strong and stable power to support manufacturing 24 hours per day. If we don’t have that, we cannot encourage foreign investment to Cambodia,” he said.
Electric Du Cambodge general director Keo Rattanak, said the country is now using about 2,000MW of power annually. Electricity imported from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam accounts for less than 20 percent of that figure.
“We will go online with a 400MW hydropower dam at Lower Sesan II in early 2018. We expect that we will have enough of our own electricity by 2020,” Mr Rattanak said.
By 2020, cities in all 25 provinces will be fully connected with electricity, while all 14,168 villag-es across the country will have sufficient power by 2030, according to Mr Jona.
By the end of last year, the government had expanded electricity to 10,589 villages nationwide, or about 75 percent. A total of 1.9 million households were also connected, or 58 percent.