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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trade in hydropower could support green development

Trade in hydropower could support green development

World Bank report points to regional energy exchange as catalyst for change

REGIONAL trade in hydropower could help in the development of sustainable energy provision for rapidly changing economies such as Cambodia, according to a new report from the World Bank.

The international financial organisation released its report, titled Winds of Change: East Asia’s Sustainable Energy Future, on Monday.

The paper, jointly produced with the Australian Government Overseas Aid Programme, investigates the challenges of developing green energy in economies where energy security and environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important.

“The main conclusion is that such a path of maintaining economic growth, mitigating climate change and improving energy security is within reach of the region’s countries.

“However, what is required is a paradigm shift to a new low-carbon development model,” wrote James Adams, World Bank’s vice president of the East Asia and Pacific regions.

Though the report focuses on the needs of the area’s more developed countries – including Thailand, China, Vietnam and Malaysia – it highlights Laos as a potential generator of hydropower, which could be sold to its neighbours to ensure carbon-free emissions.

It identifies Cambodia, which “heavily relies on diesel for power generation with a high cost of 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour”, as a potential recipient of hydropower.

“Regional hydropower trade could provide the least-cost energy supply with zero carbon emissions.

“The main effect of power trade is to support the development of a higher number of large-scale hydro schemes that would not otherwise be viable at the national level,” the study’s authors stated.

The World Bank also marked Cambodia as a potential exporter of fossil fuel, stating that gas from Cambodia can be sold to Thailand once the Kingdom’s gas fields are developed.

Domestically, the need for Cambodia to embrace low-carbon energy has been recognised by the government.

In March, government representatives told the Post about the creation of an Electrification Foundation, using a US$20 million loan from the World Bank, to provide support to any companies wishing to invest in the development of renewal energy.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech last month that Cambodia aims to become an energy exporter in the future, once the construction of hydroelectric dams at Sesan and Sre Pok concludes.

Currently, according to the World Bank study, 95.7 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity is generated using fossil fuels, with just 4.1 percent drawn from hydropower.

Since 2002, companies from China, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam, the Czech Republic and Singapore have been licenced to study the capability of up to 21 dam projects in Cambodia.

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