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Electricity purchases shown: local supply short

Electricity purchases shown: local supply short

The Cambodian government has released its first breakdown of energy purchasing from neighbouring countries, highlighting what officials say is the importance of domestic power production and continued investment in the sector.

Of the 500 megawatts of power consumed each year by Cambodia, 42 per cent was bought from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Toch Sovanna, director of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME), said last week.

The Kingdom’s demand for power would increase by as much as 500 per cent during the next 15 years, reaching about 3,000 megawatts by 2025, Toch Sovanna said.

The high cost of electricity had stymied Cambodia’s milled-rice and garment-production capacity, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during a government-private sector forum last week.

High-priced power was the leading cause of uncompetitive milled-rice exports, he said.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has provided Electricite Du Cambodge, a wholly state-owned company, with US$80 million in zero-interest loans to enlarge electricity networks, but the country still needs more investment from abroad, officials say.

“We need hundreds of millions of dollars to extend the electricity networks. Ministry [officials] are discussing this with development partners such as Japan, Korea and France,” Sat Samy, Secretary of State at MIME, said.

The Kamchay hydroelectric dam – a $280 million investment by China’s Sinohydro Corporation – is scheduled to open on December 6.

The dam, 112 metres high, will generate 193 megawatts a year. Sinohydro has a 40-year contract to operate the dam.

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