Solar farms located across five provinces in Cambodia will be launched in 2020, according to the Ministry of Mine and Energy. Through its annual report, the ministry stated that the country is planning to connect the five solar parks to the national grid as soon as possible, so they are currently having their construction works accelerated.
These solar projects are expected to boost Cambodia’s power supply by a total of 160 mW per year. Each province will account for; Svay Reign (20mW), Pursat (30mW), Battambang (60mW), Kampong Speu (20mW) and Banteay Meanchey (30 mW). Cambodia will launch other solar projects located in Kampong Chnang (60mW) and Pursat provinces (60 mW) in 2021, generating 120 mW when combined.
Cambodian government have recently taken several actions that aim to diversify power sources within the country, one of which is renewable energy. The power demands have significantly increased in recent years from investment activities, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
Coal-fired power plants and hydropower dams are still the dominant energy sources in Cambodia. As of 2019, the seven hydropower dams in the country generated a cumulative 1,328 mW of energy, accounting for 33.5% of Cambodia’s total power supply Meanwhile, solar energy making up less than 1% of total energy output in 2018.
Presently, renewable sources are estimated to represent about 15% of total power consumption since 2018. As for Cambodia’s total power supply generated increased from 2,635 mW in 2018 to 3,382 mW in 2019, presenting a 28% year-on-year hike.
Cambodia’s Minister of Mines and Energy has stated that the continuing upward trend of power consumption in Cambodia encourages the government to continue finding other sources of reliable energy. This is aimed to ensure that the demand is met to build infrastructure projects, give stability to businesses, as well as provide electricity to the people.
As stated by the chairman of Solar Energy Association of Cambodia, Sokun Sum, power demand will continue to increase year-on-year, following the rise on investment activities. Approximately 1,000 mW of renewable energy infrastructure should be created and in this sense, the government should give more opportunities, notably for renewable energy investments.
The country has the capacity to promote clean and environmentally-friendly energy, reducing its dependence on large-scale hydropower in the Mekong. UNDP reported that the country has the potential to attract significant private sector investment in solar PV, totalling more than USD 900 million investment opportunity. Moreover, Cambodia has approximately 10,000 mW of hydropower potential, 8,100 mW for solar and 6,500 mW for wind, according to a recent study by the Asian Development Bank.
In order to raise the capital needed to carry out its latest strategic development plan for period 2019-2023, the Cambodian government is taking a public-private partnership approach. The private sector will need to contribute at least 75%, while the government will contribute around USD14.3 billion to fully fund the National Strategic Development Plan.
The plan focuses on fostering inclusive growth and achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals which will support Cambodia to transform into an upper-middle-income country by 2030. Ultimately, shifting towards renewables in the energy mix will integrate green energies into the country’s economic development strategy and will also ensure continued economic growth and affordable energy sources in Cambodia.