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Clean energy microgrid in pipeline for Koh Rong Sanloem

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Koh Rong Sanloem lies 25km off the coast of Sihanoukville in southwestern Preah Sihanouk province and is about 9km long and 4km wide. CANOPY POWER

Clean energy microgrid in pipeline for Koh Rong Sanloem

A new private-sector energy development is in the pipeline for Koh Rong Sanloem Island with the goal of bringing clean and reliable electricity 24 hours a day to the remote location.

The project aims to provide a hi-tech and cutting-edge replacement for the current patchwork set-up of private diesel generators that are costly and also cause a great deal of pollution and damage to the island’s environment.

In a press release dated November 30, France’s Total Solar Distributed Generation (DG) said it has partnered with Singapore-based developer Canopy Power Pte Ltd for the venture.

It said they will develop and build a solar power array and battery-storage hybrid microgrid to deliver clean energy and power the remote island of Koh Rong Sanloem.

It noted that construction has started and that the project is expected to be completed in April next year.

As an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, Canopy Power will design and build a 1.25-megawatt-peak ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) park and a two-megawatt-hour battery integrated with diesel generators and a smart controller, it said.

The microgrid is designed to deliver electricity to the island with a renewable energy contribution of more than 50 per cent, it added.

Canopy Power, a microgrid specialist, will design, procure, build, and then hand over the microgrid to Total Solar DG, which will then finance, own and operate the plant, thereby providing renewable electricity to the licensed electricity retailer on the island.

Gavin Adda, the CEO of Total Solar Distributed Generation in Asia, said: “Converting an entire island from diesel to solar-battery power, in what is the largest project of its kind, is a milestone in our regional portfolio of over 600MW of projects in operation and development.”

He highlighted that integrating storage batteries with solar is a viable way for remote locations to leverage renewables effectively and that it’s also a great growth opportunity for his company as there are tens of thousands of islands in Southeast Asia.

“As environmental awareness in the region increases, we are committed to delivering green energy solutions that also make financial sense.

“Marking Total Solar DG’s venture into hybrid renewable energy solutions, integrating energy storage with solar, this partnership and project highlights the Total Group’s commitment to environmental sustainability, and enabling effective clean, cost-cutting solutions for stakeholders,” Adda said.

Canopy Power founder and CEO Sujay Malve said: “We are very pleased to partner with Total Solar DG to deliver this high impact project in Cambodia.”

“Electrification rate in Cambodia is relatively low and renewable energy microgrids would help to electrify the islands and remote parts of the country. We believe this microgrid at Koh Rong Sanloem will build local capabilities necessary for future deployments in Cambodia.”

Koh Rong Sanloem lies 25km off the coast of Sihanoukville in southwestern Preah Sihanouk province and is about 9km long and 4km wide.

The island is home to more than 60 hotels, resorts and guesthouses, Total Solar DG noted. Currently, each of these businesses relies on their own individual diesel generator systems powered by fuel imported in canisters.

This, it said, is expensive, unreliable, logistically cumbersome and environmentally damaging. The new microgrid aims to reduce island-wide diesel consumption by more than 600,000 litres per year.

Victor Jona, director-general of the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s General Department of Energy, told The Post on December 1 that the clean energy investment project was backed by local conglomerate Royal Group of Companies Ltd, which would supply the company’s needs in Cambodia.

To do its part in boosting national economic development, he said the ministry supports and encourages the private sector to invest in building privately-owned energy infrastructure to meet the needs of companies, especially in underdeveloped areas.

“We support private sector-led energy development to supply the energy needs of individuals when the national grid is not able to do so.”

“At present, Electricite du Cambodge [EdC] is not able to afford the expensive submarine power grid required at Koh Rong Sanloem which would initially only distribute relatively little power to the people there,” he said.

On February 28, 2008, the Royal Group was granted a concession to develop Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Rong, its larger neighbour some 4km to the north, and it planned to spend $2 billion to turn large swathes of the island into a “luxury resort destination”, according to Bloomberg News.

In a joint venture with Thailand-based Swiss investor Luzi Matzig, it also owns a stake in Royal Sands Koh Rong Hotel, which officially launched in April 2018 as the first luxury resort on the Kingdom’s most visited island.

In July, Royal Group Koh Rong Development Company, a subsidiary of Royal Group, and Sinohydro Corporation Limited, reached a $35 million deal to build 70km of roads on Koh Rong Island.

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