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Cambodia's solar solution

Australia-based energy company Star8 officially launched operations on Friday at its solar-powered factory just outside of Phnom Penh.

The ceremony marked the commencement of production on solar-powered tuk-tuks, the mainstay of the company.

Solar Tuk Tuk
Star8 launches its new line of solar vehicles and building materials in Phnom Penh on Friday. DAVID BOYLE David Boyle

Hun Many, the youngest son of Premier Hun Sen, and Alison Burrows, the Australian ambassador to Cambodia, attended the event, as did representatives from Coca-Cola, which has offered to initially subsidise the cost of some of the tuk-tuks.

“It is terrific to see people getting into energy efficiency as energy policy is very important for Cambodia,” Burrows said.

The tuk-tuks are expected to sell for between $2,500 to $4,000 depending on size and power. On average, they will be able to travel distances of up to 120 kilometres at a top speed of 50 kph after a full charge.

The Por Sen Chey district factory will employ up to 250 local staff and produce other solar-powered vehicles and products once it starts full-scale operations in May.

Burrows said the embassy was not directly backing the project, but she was optimistic about Star8’s plan to manufacture an array of environmentally friendly merchandise, including solar windows.

Asked if the embassy would consider installing solar windows, which the Star8 factory will manufacture, Burrows said it is a possibility.

“I’ll check on that.”

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