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Council of Ministers approves two coal-fired plants, transmission line

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Prime Minister Hun Sen chairs a plenary meeting of the Council of Ministers at the Peace Palace on Friday where the council approved two coal-fired power plant projects and a transmission line worth nearly $1.7 billion. FRESH NEWS

Council of Ministers approves two coal-fired plants, transmission line

The Council of Ministers has approved two coal-fired power plant projects and a transmission line worth nearly $1.7 billion, a plenary meeting of the Council of Ministers heard on Friday.

The project is in line with the government master plan for the development of additional power sources between 2020 and 2030, the council said in a press release issued on the same day.

Han Seng Coal Mine Co Ltd (HSCMC) will invest in a 265MW coal power plant located in Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district using coal from the area, the council said.

Royal Group will develop the second plant, which will generate 700MW of electricity. It will use imported coal and be located in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district.

HSCMC also received government approval for the construction of a 230kW power transmission line connecting Trapaing Prasat to the Siem Reap East substation.

The three investment projects are necessary to adequately ensure the safety and security of electricity supply in Cambodia between next year and 2024, especially in the dry season, when hydropower generation is at its lowest, the council said.

The projects could also slash electricity costs for consumers across the Kingdom, it said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said via Facebook that the government has allowed the Ministry of Mines and Energy to set up an inter-ministerial negotiation committee comprising of the ministries of Mines and Energy, and Economy and Finance, and the Electricity Authority of Cambodia to further discuss the projects with the two companies.

He said HSCMC’s coal-fired power plant project requires $294.3 million in capital investment and will be operational by the end of next year or early in 2022.

Royal Group’s power plant, which will be jointly developed with Beijing-headquartered Sinosteel Equipment and Engineering Co Ltd, requires $1.34 billion in capital investment and will be online in 2023 or 2024.

The development date for the transmission line with an estimated capital investment of $61.5 million has not been announced, Siphan said.

Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Victor Jona said on Sunday that the ministry has always sought out viable sources of electricity to meet the demand from all sectors.

Domestically produced power supply will continue to increase from next year onwards, he said.

“Increasing energy supply is key in the development of the industrial, agricultural and other sectors that are at the core of job creation for Cambodians.”

To meet the high demand growth over the last few years, Cambodia imports between 460MW and 500MW of electricity annually from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Jona said the government also plans to invest more in energy production.

From 2023 onwards, he said, the Kingdom plans to reduce energy imports to 300MW per year.

Ham Oudom, a freelance consultant on natural resource governance, said the Kingdom should look to renewable energy to meet its growing electricity demands instead, such as wind energy, solar power or biomass.

“As an environmentalist, I do not encourage the government to choose coal-power plants because they generate a lot of pollution, especially in the air,” he said, adding that Cambodia should show its willingness to help reduce global warming.

Data from the ministry shows that as of last year, Cambodia had a total electricity generating capacity of 2.5GW of electricity.

Hydroelectric power plants accounted for 1.3GW, coal-power plants for 640MW, fossil fuel power stations 274MW, solar power plants 90MW and biogas plants 56MW.

Jona said encouraging investment in renewable energy is government policy. Solar power generation is expected to increase from about 90MW at the end of last year to 400MW by the end of this year.

“Cambodia is a signatory to the agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming,” he said referring to the Kyoto Protocol.

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