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Malaysian firm plans 10-mw biomass plant

A Malaysian-base energy service group has plans to spend roughly $10 million to build a biomass power plant in Cambodia.

Wah Seong Corporation Berhad’s plant would have a production capacity of up to 10 megawatts, said the group’s chief executive, Chan Cheu Leong, in an article by The Star yesterday. The cost of building a plant is about $1.2 million to $1.5 million per megawatt, he added.

The group plans to partner with local rice and palm oil operators to supply fuel for the plant.

Earlier this year the Post reported that about 75 per cent of Cambodia’s energy needs are met by gas that is produced by burning biomass such as rice husks leftover from rice production.

The Malaysian group’s foray into Cambodia is part of a broader strategy to build plants overseas – “possibly 20 to 30 of them” – over the next five to 10 years, Chan said.

Shyamkumar Gowrikumar, senior manager of the investor relations division of Wasco Energy, a subsidiary of Wah Seong, said Cambodia has the “right dynamics” for a biomass facility: a need for sustainable energy and “an abundance of biomass energy source.”

The group is still negotiating the plant’s location and operational date, he added.

Chea Chan Thou, project co-ordinator with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, said that the plant would ideally be built in the country’s western region, where many rice mills are located. One potential challenge is that rice production depends on climate, he added.

According to an UN-administered website, a 10-megawatt power plant requires 100,000 tonnes of rice husks per year.

Owner of local company SME Renewable Energy Tony Knowles said the plant’s potential capacity is “quite a lot”.

“You wouldn’t produce that much power unless you have an agreement with [state-owned supplier Electricite du Cambodge] to supply to the grid,” he said.

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