A $380 million 400MW heavy fuel oil power facility in Kandal province’s eastern Lvea Em district has been completed, and on reserve to generate electricity when demand reaches a high enough level, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Victor Jona, the director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Energy, said a 230kV high-voltage transmission line connecting the project to the national grid had been built and is ready to power on once electricity demand is high enough.
While the ministry had predicted that electricity demand would surge on the back of the Covid-19 outbreak, he said it had instead dropped significantly amid the ensuing global health crisis, which led to garment factories in Cambodia shuttering or suspending operations.
“Construction is 100 per cent complete, it’s just that we haven’t put it into operation because the demand for electricity has not yet increased, we will fire it up when demand is high,” Jona said.
He told The Post last month electricity consumption in the Kingdom would fall between 10 and 12 per cent this year due to Covid-19-induced economic shocks in key sectors – above all in garment manufacturing.
He pointed out that electricity consumption in the garment manufacturing sector accounts for more than 40 per cent of the total.
“The onset of Covid-19 blemished this year as the first time in my tenure at the ministry to see a year-on-year drop in electricity demand,” he said, adding that demand typically grows between 15-20 per cent annually.
While energy consumption in the garment sector had been on the decline, he noted that household consumption has largely remained stable.
Peak electricity demand has fallen to just 1,700MW this year from 2,000MW last year, he said, adding that this figure will rebound as the Covid-19 situation improves and more countries reopen their economies.
Since the emergence of the pandemic, 69 factories suspended work and 130 companies closed their doors, leaving 70,000 workers out of jobs, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training statistics show.
Last year, Cambodia had 1,730 factories, of which 1,069 were for manufacturing garment, textile, footwear and travel goods, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation.
According to state-run energy utility Electricite du Cambodge (EdC), peak electricity demand in the country is expected to increase to 2,300MW this year and hit 2,500MW by next year.
The Kingdom’s electricity demands are currently covered by hydroelectricity and coal power, accounting for around 48 per cent and 47 per cent of generation, respectively.