Energy security is Cambodia’s next burning challenge. But The Blue Circle Chief Executive Officer Olivier Duguet has a novel solution to fix energy security woes in Cambodia.
Wind energy is another option for resources-rich Cambodia, he said.
Duguet said wind energy can complement other cleaner renewable energy such as solar and hydropower, which is vital for the Kingdom.
“Wind energy is not only for rich countries or countries with a big population. It is suitable for countries like Cambodia. It is affordable, stable and can complement other energy sources,” he added.
Countries with similar gross domestic product per capita in Africa or Asia have already more than 150MW installed of wind capacity each (Senegal with 158MW and Pakistan with 792MW), he said.
Cambodia has come a long way in energy transformation – shifting from dependence on diesel and heavy fuel about a decade ago to a different energy mix – hydropower and electricity from coal-fired power plants.
For instance, in 2011 diesel and heavy fuel oil produced 89.2 percent of the country’s electricity needs, but it felt drastically to merely 8.7 percent by 2016.
Today, electrification program nationwide has been successfully implemented covering about 70 percent of the country.
In addition, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has set ambitious targets.
All Cambodian villages to have electricity supply by 2020 and by 2030, at least 70 percent of households will have access to grid-quality electricity.
Despite the achievements, industry experts are calling for a balanced energy mix to ensure there is sustainable energy supply to meet the country’s power demand which is expected to increase due to rising population and growing economy.
“Over six million people do not yet have access to grid-quality electricity in Cambodia.
“Cambodia currently depends mainly on large scale hydropower and fossil fuels and its power development plan to 2030 continues that dependence,” said WWF’s (World Wide Fund for Nature) Cambodia Renewable Energy Report 2016.
At the “Inspire ASEAN 2018 - Powering Cambodia with Wind and Solar” conference held in Phnom Penh last Wednesday, energy experts said it is time for Cambodia to diversify its power production.
The country’s energy mix is not balanced, as there is over dependence on hydropower, which makes up roughly 47 percent of the energy generation, while 19 percent of electricity is still imported from Vietnam and Thailand.
Besides, other flaws like lack of a competitive electricity market, costly power rates and absences of a dedicated renewable energy targets hinder the sector’s performance.
With electricity consumption forecast to grow at about 9.4 percent annually until 2020, industry experts are calling for a balanced energy system and shift away from carbon-heavy fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to more renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
“Wind power brings added value for the energy economy and Cambodia can achieve energy independence and replace part of its imported power from neighbouring countries,” said Duguet at the conference.
According to The Bluce Circle, Cambodia has potential to generate about 500 MW wind power because of its weather conditions.
The Singapore-based renewable energy developer is currently carrying out feasibility studies for a 13 MW pilot project in Kampot, Sihanouk and Mondulkiri.
“Cambodia is situated in an area where the Asian monsoons prevail. The Blue Circle has installed three meteorological masts since 2015, to acquire long-term wind data; has secured sites and can now confirm Cambodia’s wind power potential at a competitive cost,” he added.
Wind power can bring significant socioeconomic benefits – create green jobs, boosts local tourism, maintenance center provides job opportunities and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Blue Circle’s chief development officer Gilles Beau told the Southeast Asia Globe magazine’s report “Future Energy” that time is ripe for Cambodia to tap renewable energy.
“Technology is ready, its cost competitive, there are plenty of renewable resources in Cambodia between solar, wind and hydro, and it is time for Cambodia to unlock its potential,” said Beau.