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Coal: A burning question

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
A coal-fired power plant in Cambodia. EDC

Cambodia and other Asean member states have discussed the future of the coal mining business for the power sector in the region, according to the Cambodia Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME).

The Ministry said the discussion was made at the Asean Coal Business Roundtable Dialogue via video conference. Cambodia and Myanmar hosted the meeting.

The forum was attended by 300 participants from all 10 Asean members, coal power policy experts from the Global Coal Association and international investment companies on coal.

The forum was aimed at mutual exchanging information on the future of coal mining resources for power diversification in the region, set up potential investment opportunities and to strengthen the role of using clean coal technology, which is more environmentally friendly by extracting much toxicity from the fumes.

Victor Jona, director-general of energy and spokesman at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said that in the framework of Asean’s cooperation on power, coal is among eight power resources to ensure power security.

“The Asean forum on coal was focused on coal production to serve power demand in the region and for power security, we will still need coal as a power source – but using clean coal technology to reduce the environmental impact,” he said.

Jona said an Asean power ministerial meeting is held every year during September or October to exchange information and share experiences among members on power. This year the meeting may be held online to avoid the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Jona said Cambodia as well as other Asean members, when talking about power, cannot skip coal power because it accounts for 30 percent of total power resources.

“We think about the environment but power security to link economic cooperation is important. For the next 10 years, coal will still play an important role in power security,” he said.

According to Jona, Cambodia’s coal power accounts for about 30 percent of its total energy and hydropower about 20 percent. The rest comes from other sources.

“In the future, to ensure power security in the country and environmental protection, we will focus on renewable energy and natural gas resources could be a leading power source,” he said.

Cambodia already has three existing coal-fired power plants that generate 740 megawatts (mW) of power to the main grid. These power plants are located in Stung Hav district, Preah Sihanouk province. A megawatt is a unit for measuring power and represents 1 million watts which is equivalent to the energy produced by 10 automobile engines or 330 average Western-style homes for one hour.

The Kingdom’s coal power projects will also make Cambodia more self-independent for its electricity supply. Currently, the country imports around 20 percent of electricity from its neighbouring countries.

The government has also approved another 700 mW coal-fired power plant in Stung Hav,  where construction started last year.

In March this year, the National Assembly also approved a draft provision of a state guarantee for three new power projects, one of which is a 700mW coal-fired power plant investment to be undertaken by the Royal Group.

Power supply rose by 28 percent in 2019 to 3,382 mW, according to an annual report from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

 

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