The government will prioritise renewable energy development rather than hydroelectric power, Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) director-general Keo Rattanak has said.
Private sector insiders have hailed the decision, saying investment in solar power would make the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector more competitive due to lower prices.
Speaking at a presentation on Cambodia’s 2020 energy vision, Rattanak said Cambodia will expand its solar energy investment by 12 per cent by the end of next year and increase it up to 20 per cent over the next three years.
He said that solar power would be used to meet the increasing electricity demands in the industrial and commercial sectors.
“We want to set up solar power plants in many locations. We believe solar power will provide lower prices. As EdC’s director, I do not want to see the Mekong River as part of the hydropower generation,” he said.
Rattanak said Cambodia will produce 70MW of solar energy next year – 10MW from a solar farm in Svay Rieng province and 60MW from solar power plants in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district.
Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Moul Sarith said expanding solar power plants would help reduce electricity costs and boost the Kingdom’s exports.
“I think it is good for the rice industry as production costs will be lower and this will provide us with greater potential to compete with other countries,” he said.
Electricity prices for the industrial and commercial sectors currently range between 600 and 800 riel ($0.15 and $0.20) per kWh.
Sarith said the private sector has called for prices to be reduced to between 400 and 500 riel per kWh. CRF member rice millers pay on average between $50,000 and $150,000 per month for electricity.
The government recently approved two solar power projects which can produce 120MW of power in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces, which are due to be online by the end of next year and in 2021 respectively.
The government also approved a 20MW expansion to a 60MW solar power plant which is currently under construction in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district and scheduled to launch in December.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said EdC expanding solar power would attract foreign investors.
“I think that it’s a good thing, the cheaper the cost of electricity, the better the production levels we can achieve."
“If electricity is cheaper, it will encourage more investors to come. It’ll help the industrial sector a lot as it will help to lower production costs,” he said.