As regional countries expand the share of wind and other clean sources in national energy mixes, French-owned The Blue Circle Pte Ltd has stressed the Kingdom’s need to get a move on and install more commercial wind turbines to keep pace with its peers and decrease the ecological footprint.

With seven areas identified as being potentially suitable for wind energy, the added generation capacity will help ensure that the Kingdom remains on course to meet the targets set out in the government’s Electrical Master Plan 2030, according to the Singapore-based renewable energy producer.

Southeast Asia’s energy demand has surged by more than 80 per cent since 2000 and is expected to further rise by 60 per cent by 2040, its chairman and CEO Olivier Duguet said citing the International Energy Agency.

“As of today, Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia’s neighbouring countries, have respectively 582MW and 1,538MW of wind power capacity installed already and are planning to install a minimum of 6,000 MW of new projects by 2025,” the French entrepreneur said.

“Cambodia has included in its 2030 Electrical Master Plan only 80MW of wind energy by 2024. Even if the 2030 target of 17,677MW total installed electrical generation capacity set in 2019 for the country were to be revised down by 30 per cent following the pandemic, the wind power share would only represent a mere 0.64 per cent of Cambodia’s total capacity installed in 2030.

“In the same timeframe, the Electrical Master Plan includes 1,740MW of solar power to be installed by 2030, potentially representing 12.1 per cent of Cambodia total capacity installed and plans to reach 540MW before 2023,” he added.

In a study financed by the Australian government and released on July 15, “independent consultant 3i” noted that, in a medium-wind scenario, the Kingdom could install 1,185MW by 2030 in seven “already identified windy zones”, Duguet said without disclosing the locations.

“This capacity could represent 10 per cent of the total Cambodian electricity generation in 2030, reaching an optimised cost of 6.86 US cents per kWh and avoiding 10 million tonnes of Co2 emissions.

“Regarding grid compatibility with different intermittent renewable generation levels, the study concluded that 10 per cent of wind power in Cambodia’s energy mix would be manageable by EdC [Electricite du Cambodge] without heavy additional investments.

“So, will Cambodia build back from the pandemic by adding wind power to its solar ambition? Will EdC go beyond a first 80MW wind pilot project still to be implemented and follow its Mekong neighbours to tap into its wind national resource with a comprehensive plan? Now is the time,” he said.

Ministry of Mines and Energy director-general for Energy Victor Jona recently told The Post that the Blue Circle has been negotiating a power purchase agreement (PPA) with EdC for “more than a year”, the last step before reaching a formal agreement to build the 80MW wind power station on Bokor Mountain in Kampot province.

With electricity rates trimmed each year since 2015 as per government policy, Jona said EdC requires a price under the $0.068 per kWh quoted by the company to provide consumers with more affordable electricity.

“The Blue Circle has yet to begin construction, as the company is still waiting for a successful price negotiation with Electricite du Cambodge,” he said, adding that the firm will submit proposals and technical specifications to the ministry for review to start construction, depending on results of talks with EdC.

The Blue Circle (Cambodia) Co Ltd communication and development support officer Amaury Brucker told The Post that the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down governmental decisions related to electricity capacity expansion.

“Our proposed PPA price of 6.88 US cents per kWh is already the lowest price for wind energy in Southeast Asia and is also consistent with the latest solar PPA prices signed by EdC just last year at 7.6 US cents per kWh. We are not convinced that any national long-term plan could be sustainable at a much lower price,” Brucker said.

“As for our plan now, in order to comply with the Electrical Master Plan of Cambodia, which includes our Bokor project of 80 MW to be interconnected by 2024, we need to start implementation this year which coincides with the Ministry of Mine and Energy’s schedule,” he added.