The combined 400 mega Watt (mW) supply of power plants proposed to run on heavy fuel oil in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district will not generate power as planned in the first part of this year because construction has been suspended by COVID-19.
Two construction firms contracted to build the plants are from China, where the COVID-19 pandemic started and which imposed strict bans on travel and enforced quarantines, said Victor Jona, director-general of Energy at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“The power plants were scheduled to generate power to the grid within the first semester of this year, but because the companies due to build the plants could not complete the construction on time after the outbreak of COVID-19 (which have made it difficult to travel in and out of China along with other issues such as facing strict quarantine controls), the generation of power is suspended,” Jona said.
The suspension may last for up to six months.
Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC), the electricity authority that manages the power plants, said the 400 mW power plants were scheduled to generate power in May this year to supply Phnom Penh.
They comprise two 200 mW plants built by two Chinese firms – CGGC-UN Power Co and China National Heavy Machinery Corp.
The project is projected to cost $380 million, with $300 million loaned by the government and the rest coming from EDC’s own coffers.
The government approved the power plants after Phnom Penh suffered blackouts in the dry season last year. The construction of the power plants started in October 2019.
The generators equipping the plants were imported from Finland and Germany.
Although the 400 mW extra power supply would now miss the dry season, the government says it has prepared in advance other power sources to complement ever-rising demand, Jona said. “It is not a serious matter. Although we cannot generate 400 mW imminently from the power plants, we have prepared other power sources. We can rely on hydropower dams to be used carefully night and day. And there are other sources such as coal-fired power plants, solar, biomass power plants and imported power that have been increased this year and are set to respond to the power demand,” Jona added.
Power supply rose by 28 percent in 2019 to 3,382 mW, says the Ministry of Mines and Energy so some still fear blackouts.