Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dutch investors mull $300m solar project

Dutch investors mull $300m solar project

Dutch investors mull $300m solar project

091125_07
Two Dutch businessmen are looking into building acres of solar panels in Cambodia to create an electricity-generating plant like this one near Boulder City, Colorado. BLOOMBERG

Businessmen backed by international financiers say scheme has government support but is still years away from launch

Two Dutch businessmen said Tuesday they were considering investing up to US$300 million to build acres of solar panels in Cambodia to generate electricity, though they warned that completion of the project could be “three to four years” away and posed several challenges.

The businessmen, Peter Wijnans and Frans Marchand, said the solar project would be backed by international investors interested in the environmentally friendly aspects of alternative energy development, they said, but declined to name the investors.

“Cambodia is a country of young people; they know that this is the right thing to do,” said Wijnans.

The group considering either one giant solar array or four or five smaller individual sites. It would resemble large international solar projects presently operating in Spain and the United States, Wijnans said.

The solar proposal already has the full support of the government, he added.

Energy demand in Cambodia is expected to grow 3.7 percent per year from 2005 to 2030 as manufacturing industries are established and more households are connected to the electricity grid, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) released earlier this month.

Just 20 percent of households are currently connected to the national grid, which is fragmented into isolated power systems centred on provincial towns and cities.

Because of the high cost of extending that grid, the report said, renewable energy technologies such as solar heating, biogas for cooking, and solar and wind power generation are potential options for extending energy to rural areas.

Trade mission
The pair were among more than 20 Dutch businessman in Phnom Penh taking part Tuesday in a trade mission organised by the embassy of the Netherlands in Thailand and the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The two-day event, which concludes with a presentation by Cambodian officials, was designed to introduce Dutch businessmen to the Kingdom.

“If you’re serious about investing, it’s good to be informed and to do your own investigation,” said Wijnans, adding that he had already researched the Kingdom extensively.

Tuesday morning saw three speakers discuss the realities of doing business in Cambodia. Leopard Capital CEO Douglas Clayton, the first of the presenters, said Asia was recognised as the centre of global growth.

“Cambodia has been overlooked and it provides an opportunity to latecomers,” he said.

“Asia is blossoming, and Cambodia plays its part. It comes down to being in the right place at the right time.”

He also downplayed the country’s high-profile spat with Thailand over Preah Vihear temple and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s decision to appoint fugitive Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser.

“People serious about investing here take the time to realise Preah Vihear is carefully controlled, and will not be allowed to impede economic growth,” he said.

Sjaak de Klein, country general manager of TNT Express Worldwide, said the poor domestic transportation network remains a potential pitfall to doing business in the Kingdom.

Serious road improvements are under way, but railway construction and repairs are approximately five years away from becoming a viable option for shipping goods, he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group