New modelling has shown the average cost for solar electricity has dropped “dramatically” over the last decade, becoming an increasingly viable solution for the local businesses who repeatedly state a lack of affordable electricity as a major burden to profitability.
According to data released by market researcher BloombergNEF over the past 10 years, average global solar prices have dropped from $0.27 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010 to $0.05 per kWh in 2020 (with current grid-power costs in Phnom Penh are at approximately $0.22 per kWh).
In addition, the common complaint of solar power being the price of electricity storage (ie batteries) has also been reducing, with the levelised cost of power storage facilities falling to $0.15 kWh, approximately half of the price it was two years ago, according to the same report.
Average figures stated have been based upon the entire cost of producing the power and accountsfor the development, construction and equipment, financing, feedstock, operation and maintenance. One kilowatt-hour could run a 100-watt light bulb operating for 10 hours or so.
Besides the increasing economic benefits, organisations are also calling on Cambodia to embrace the reliable energy source for environmental purposes too. British Ambassador Tina Redshaw stated climate change and renewable energy is “top on her list for policy initiatives in the country”.
“The United Kingdom is hosting, the now postponed 26th United Nations Climate Change conference next year, hence our embassy has been focusing on how we can work with the Ministry of Environment and the National Council for Sustainable Development in their approach to climate change and sustainable energy provisions,” Redshaw said.
“As we have seen the price of solar drop we have seen an increased interest in the Cambodian Government to get more involved with solar energy. This has resulted in a huge shift over the last 18 months for local policymakers wanting to install more solar energy into the national grid,” she added.
Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has previously stated the continuing upward trend of power consumption in Cambodia means the government must continue to find other sources of reliable energy to ensure demand is met to build infrastructure projects, give stability to businesses and provide electricity to the people.
“The development of power sources and increasing the capacity of power generation, transmission, distribution and electrification to businesses and consumers are our main tasks. We have been constantly developing new power sources and increasing the supply to meet the nation’s power demands,” Suy said.
There are five solar parks now being fast-tracked this year so they can be connected to the national grid as soon as possible, spread over Svay Reign, Pursat, Kampong Speu, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
The five projects are estimated to cumulatively boost the nation’s annual power supply by a total of 160 mW. The total amount of electricity available for the country last year was measures at 3,382 megawatts, up 28 percent from 2,635 mW in 2018.
With the Kingdom’s main electricity sources being from hydroelectric dams and coal-fired power plants.