A 265MW coal-fired power plant in Oddar Meanchey province is scheduled to begin operations early next year as construction of the plant's infrastructure and transmission line connecting to East Siem Reap Substation nears completion, according to deputy provincial governor Di Rado.

In February last year, the government approved Han Seng Coal Mine Co Ltd's (HSCMC) $294.3 million project in the province's easternmost Trapaing Prasat district.

According to plans, the plant will source coal from existing mines in the district and be online in late 2021 or early 2022.

Rado told The Post on May 9 that construction of the project was progressing steadily according to plan, with infrastructure construction mainly pending the installation of the machinery.

He said the company would test the machinery by the end of this year before beginning operations early in 2022.

"Obviously things could have been faster, but Covid-19 has made it impossible to transport machinery for installation, even though the buildings' infrastructure at the factory site and the network are almost 100 per cent done,” Rado said, adding that the company would reportedly install the machinery next month.

He said the project would not only contribute to job creation for the people in Oddar Meanchey but also supply electricity to the national grid using coal resources readily available in the province.

Victor Jona, head of the Ministry of Mines and Energy's General Department of Energy, said Cambodia currently generates 70 to 80 per cent of total domestic electricity consumption, and the rest is imported from neighbouring countries.

He said national peak electricity demand would average about 2,000MW prior to the Covid-19 crisis, but has since fallen to an estimated 1,800MW.

Domestic energy production will only continue to increase, especially from 2021 onwards, he claimed.

"Increasing energy supply is a principle of the development of industry, agriculture and other sectors that are the core and foundation of job creation for the Cambodian people," Jona said.

A report by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) noted that in 2020, 23.15 per cent of the country's electricity would be generated from coal-fired power plants, 22.08 per cent from fuel oil, 45.60 per cent from hydropower, 8.12 per cent from solar and 1.05 per cent from biomass.