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Coal justified: ministry

Coal justified: ministry

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Tun Lean, general director of the Energy Deepartment at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, speaks to reporters yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The general director of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy has defended Cambodia’s energy needs and its use of coal power as the country attempts to use modern technology to reduce pollution ahead of the ASEAN Senior Energy Officials’ 30th meeting.

“By 2015, Cambodia will not produce enough energy as more people will be connected to the power grid,” Tun Lean said. “Coal-generated energy is not green energy, but it is a necessity. We use modern technology called ‘clean coal technology’ so it has a lesser impact on the environment.”

According to a previous report by The Phnom Pen Post, the Cambodian government has approved coal-power plants in Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Kampot provinces worth an estimated US$3 billion, $362 million and $400 million respectively.

The ASEAN meeting will focus on the development of green energy from the sources renewable energy such as hydropower, according to Cambodia’s senior energy officials.

Tun Lean told reporters at the meeting that energy safety and security in the region is a major topic for discussion.

“Energy production which does not affect the environment severely is the main point of the meeting. We are seeking the development of green energy,” he said.

Green energy in Cambodia is generated primarily by hydroelectric dams and the Kingdom is accelerating the development of other green energy sources, said Tun Lean.

Cooperation on energy in the ASEAN region consists of ASEAN energy, ASEAN gas pipe, clean coal technology, rebirth energy, energy effectiveness and conservation, regional energy building plan and civil nuclear energy.

Tun Lean said that so far, Cambodia generated more than 600 megawatts of electricity across the country.

About half of it is used in Phom Penh, which during the dry season needs an additional 35 to 50 megawatts.

He said Cambodia imported about 45 per cent of its energy from neighbouring countries – Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam – with the remainder coming from hydropower and gasoline generators.

Son Chhay, a lawmaker for an opposition party, criticised the Cambodian government for not having clear policies for the development of a transparent and responsible energy policy especially since coal is banned in some countries and insisting that coal has no environmental impact.

He said: “We demand a transparent and international recognised energy development program.

“As parliamentary members we are not happy with the current plan because government always conducts negotiations with private companies in secret before bringing them to the National Assembly for approval.

“It is necessary to develop an energy plan and policy and as part of that it must include green energy – such as hydropower,” he continued.

According to the press release, the meeting included officials from: China, Japan, Korea, Australia, India, ASEAN and Southern Asian Research Institute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]

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