More than 50 representatives of Indian energy firms attended the opening of the Powering Cambodia conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, engaging local government officials and stakeholders in the Kingdom’s energy sector to explore investment opportunities in the field of electricity generation and distribution.
Harry Dhaul, director general of the Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI), which organised the two-day conference, said the power sector was the backbone of any emerging economy, and a reliable supply of electricity was essential for powering economic growth and social development.
“Power is a commodity that is even more essential for growing and emerging economies such as India and Cambodia,” he said.
“Competitive electricity tariffs and favourable foreign investment policies make Cambodia an attractive location for development of a power market that is energy sufficient and does not rely on imports from neighbouring countries.”
Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said energy security was crucial not only for daily household usage, but also to support the growth of commerce and industries.
“Energy, and especially electricity, is one of the key priority areas in which the government pays very close attention and gives a very high consideration in the term of efficiency, security, transparency of production, supply, utilisation, management and sustainability,” he said.
Addressing the conference, Indian Ambassador Naveen Srivastava related Cambodia’s tremendous advances in extending its electricity network.
He said power generation capacity has grown rapidly to cope with swelling consumption, but the Kingdom would face challenges in its goal to provide electricity to 100-per cent of rural villages by 2020 and extend grid electricity to the majority of households by 2030.
Srivastava said Cambodia’s electricity supply is currently dependent on imported energy and while hydropower stations expected to come online in the next few years would mitigate this reliance, imported fuel oil and coal are likely to remain a significant part of the country’s energy mix for years to come.
He added that remote households continue to rely on fuel oil or batteries, while electricity distribution infrastructure must be expanded to handle rising generation capacity.
“All of these [factors] lead to a high cost of electricity, which acts as an impediment for rapid economic development,” he said.
Srivastava said the Cambodian government has presented a proposal to establish a 10-megawatt solar park to the IPPAI and Indian companies, and has encouraged them to invest in the project. He said solar energy was a cost-effective solution to electrifying remote, rural communities.
“In large parts of rural Cambodia that are remote and where grid connection might be too expensive, the prospects of distributing solar power seems to be very good,” he said.
The IPPAI was established in 1994 following the restructuring and deregulation of India’s power sector and serves as a neutral proactive forum for independent power producers to articulate their concerns.