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Shining a light on solar power


Solar panel are showed by Mr. Henrry Xia in Suntopway Investment Cambodia company. Photograph: Meng Kim Long/Phnom Penh Post

Modern solar technology, which generates power from sunshine instead of using oil or coal power, is attracting the interest of people in rural areas, 70 per cent of whom have no access to electricity, according to Chinese experts working in Cambodia last week.

Henry Xia, owner of Suntopway Investment Cambodia, located at Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, said that he opened his business three months ago, and has seen his customers increase gradually, across 20 provinces.

“Markets in Cambodia are not few but are so big that 70 per cent of Cambodian people have no access to electricity, especially in far provinces,” he said.

He said that his factories in China have worked for 20 years, in Africa for 12 years and have started this year in Cambodia.

He wants to open his business in nations in the ASEAN region such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Burma, which are lacking electricity energy to light houses; actually, 30 percent of Cambodian people have no access to electricity at all, he said.

“Solar energy does not only meet the demand for electricity but also reduces environmental pollution, it’s quiet, and it takes energy from sunshine to use freely,” he said.

The price of solar energy depends on the size of the system installed. For example, a small-size solar set up able to power two light bulbs, one computer, and one radio, and can charge a mobile phone costs USD250, but  if six light bulbs and a television are powered, use, it costs $700.

“We can install solar energy equipment to draw energy anywhere from 20 watts to 200 watts that can be used for many demands; moreover, customers can pay by installment at banks throughout Cambodia,” he said. He continued that the equipment is guaranteed for 25 years, and comes with 10 years’ warranty with one year’s maintenance free of charge.

He said that Cambodia now has about 10 small companies in the business. His company has the cheapest prices, he said, because he has his own factory to produce the equipment.

Indonesia is a target for distribution in after Cambodia as it is rich in islands lacking electricity, rather like Cambodia, he said.

Kong Pharith, president of Local Capacity Builder and a teacher training ‘science for individual success’, said that he has worked in the business producing solar energy equipment since 2005, and there are no fewer than 20,000 Cambodian people using the equipment in their houses.

He said that most people using the equipment are in provinces such as Prey Veng, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Preah Vihear, Battambang, Siem Reap, Mondul kiri, Stung Treng and Ratanak kiri.

Chum Chan, 33, a farmer in Kampong Speu using solar power, said he started using the equipment two years ago from the SMART Training Center, said he profits more than if using a generator, which in one day costs less than 30,000 riel. He continued that although the expense was up to $1,700 for 85 watts, able to power 20 bulbs, they use it all the time, particularly in the rainy season.

Ma Sophy, 32, a villager in Kampot province’s O’ Kantol village, who has been using   solar   equipment  for seven months, had a similar view as Chum Chan on solar equipment, but she added that the equipment does not only  reduce daily expenses but doesn’t affect the environment to the same extent as using a generator. She said she spent $698 on equipping a solar system able to power five bulbs, one fan and a television.



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