Cambodia Investment Review

Clean Energy Week Cambodia 2022 kicks off, AmCam hosts discussions on the importance of balancing Cambodia’s electricity design

Clean Energy Week Cambodia 2022 kicks off, AmCam hosts discussions on the importance of balancing Cambodia’s electricity design

Tom Starkey

Clean Energy Week Cambodia 2022 (CEW22) was officially launched by founding sponsors and key partners at the Australian Ambassador’s Residence in Phnom Penh as the Americans youth space AmCam discusses Cambodia’s electricity design. 

The week-long event, which is organized by EnergyLab in partnership with founding sponsors Australian Aid and the UNDP is not only set to be the biggest yet but will also be the first physical event since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During opening remarks, Australian Ambassador Pablo Kang said, “From our partners and sponsors to representatives from the public and private sectors, civil society organizations, and more, I think all of us here tonight want to support Cambodia to reap the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy.”

“We now know that renewable power is a reliable, affordable and sustainable source of clean energy, that can be effectively managed with forecasting. By investing in clean energy, Cambodia can reduce energy prices and guarantee its own sustainable power,” he added.

According to Kang, he said that the Kingdom’s transition to clean energy will require technical assistance and support, and Australia is committed to sharing its knowledge and experiences for Cambodia to realize its ambitions for clean energy and carbon neutrality by 2050.

To read more about Cambodia’s 2050 climate goals click here.

Australian Ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang.

Keo Rattanak, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, welcomed Ambassador Kang’s remarks regarding collaboration on clean energy.

“Cambodia does not lack imagination and foresight on clean energy, we just ask for access to green finance and technical resources. A less globalized world is a weaker world, so Cambodia can only hope for the cooperation we need from developed countries so we can accelerate the journey to net zero,” Rattanak said.

“We have already progressed from 100% dependency on oil to some 61% of our power being delivered by renewable energy. Our interest is in reserving the sustainable livelihood of our people while contributing to a greener world, working within the framework of reliability sustainability, and affordability,” he added.

CEW22 award winners announced

The event, which is co-sponsored by CominAsia, Heineken, and Mitsubishi Corporation, also saw two Clean Energy Awards presented. The first CEW22 individual award was received by Much Pheakdey, AMK Energy Efficiency lead, and the second company award was presented to SOGE Solar Green Energy and was received by Tida Kheav.

Speaking after receiving her award, Much Pheakdey said she was shocked and excited because she wasn’t expecting the award.

“For me, I am just doing my job. What began with me learning about the importance of reducing energy use and switching to clean energy turned into me championing these issues both at work and in my home. Now all my children know how important it is!,” Much Pheakdey said.

“Yes, number one is about cost saving but it is also vital to protecting the environment and the health of our people in the country,” she added.

To read more about the 2021 Clean Energy Week winners click here.

Individual award winner was Much Pheakdey, Energy Efficiency Focal point and Senior Finance officer at AMK while Solar Green Energy (Cambodia) won the company award of Clean Energy Awards 2022.

Wrapping up the launch event, Country Director of EnergyLab Natharoun Ngo Son said CEW22 will serve to highlight Cambodia’s unique clean energy opportunity adding that while other countries struggle with oil prices, Cambodia has changed that by developing its own power. 

“What I love about improving the clean energy in Cambodia, is that it brings in clean energy capital and that in turn lowers the fuel cost. We know that a higher share of solar power is technically and economically feasible, but it requires planning and support to implement,” Natharoun said.

“We can celebrate the fact that over half our energy comes from renewables, which is the highest in Asia. However, this event will also give us an opportunity to bring attract further investment to continue this trend and even explore clean energy export opportunities in the future,” he added.

Balancing Cambodia’s electricity system

The second day of CEW2022 featured a series of panel discussions on power management hosted by AmCam whose mission is to provide a space for young Cambodians to learn more about the United States and to share ideas.

The talks were centred around exploring the untapped Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) potential and the strategic possibilities to balance Cambodia’s electricity system and included: 

  • Dr. Thanh Pham, Business Development Manager of SEA at Wartsila
  • Cecline Dahome, Co-founder & CEO at Sevea, 
  • Jeroen Verschelling, Co-founder and Chariman at Kamworks
  • Somatra Kim, Country Manager at The Blue Circle Cambodia

Opening the discussion, Cecline Dahome said the Cambodian energy balance is unique due to how rapidly it has developed in recent years.

“Cambodia has evolved drastically when it comes to energy. The production capacity in the country has been multiplied by six and the widespread electrification of the country, which now covers over 90 percent, has led to huge new demand for power,” she said.

According to Dahome within that generation mix, the Kingdom is at an average of around 50 percent renewable energy which includes VRE, hydro, and biomass, which leaves Cambodia at a crossroads.

To read more about how solar will provide an economic spark for Cambodia’s manufacturing industry click here.

Natharoun Ngo Son, country director of EnergyLab Cambodia.

“On one hand, Cambodia committed in 2019 to building multiple coal power plants. However, coal reliance has been driving up energy prices dangerously. Also, there is a low possibility of funding for coal power stations as a result of pledges by countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea to cancel coal projects abroad,” she said.

“On the other hand, the technical output potential from VRE is very high, with the latest estimate showing some 40 gigawatts (GW) of solar potential and 1.4 GW from the wind. Not only would this supply clean energy, but it would reduce expensive energy imports, take advantage of complimentary solar/hydro at relevant wet and dry seasons, and create more jobs and economic benefits compared to other technologies,” she added.

Renewables and nuclear power will displace most fossil fuel use

Jeroen Verschelling of Kamworks commented that it was no secret that a wide majority of actors and stakeholders want renewable energy further integrated into the grid.

“Consumers and investors want it, climate change and international obligations require it and essentially, renewable energy is much cheaper than coal and oil. Renewables and nuclear power will displace most fossil fuel use, and the share of fossil fuels is set to fall from 80 percent in 2020 to just over 20 percent by 2050.”

According to Verschelling in Cambodia, there needs to be a solid plan for solar and to understand the ancillary services needed to balance the grid, including geographic spreading, prediction services, battery storage development and more.

“Currently, there is an issue with penalties for rooftop solar and we should also allow corporate buyers to access renewable electricity. Currently, transportation of RE by the state is not allowed. We should also establish a trading platform for renewable electricity, so you have a whole range of different markets where RE is traded,” he added.

The panel discussion was held at AmCam office in Exchange Square Phnom Penh.

Speaking on wind power potential, Somatra Kim, said The Blue Circle had identified 17 zones of wind resources in Cambodia, that could deliver some 6.8 GW of power.

“7 out of the 17 can be developed in the short and medium term with a capacity of 1.18 GW. We, as a wind power developer, are hoping to build and begin wind development here and are ready to be a part of the RGC’s effort for RE integration and Carbon Emission reduction,” Somatra Kim said.

“We see wind power as an excellent complimentary RE alongside hydro and solar. If we take lessons from other examples across the world, where you have solar power production it is important to have wind power too,” she added.

To read more about The Blue Circle’s wind projects in Cambodia click here.

Solar is the cheapest and greenest energy

Dr. Thanh Pham agreed that the general trend is that solar and wind production will increase and conventional energy, namely oil, coal and gas will decrease.

“Through our work in Vietnam we showed that the country could save 28 billion every year by increasing renewable energy production and flexible gas as well as storage capacity,” he said.

There was a large turnout for the panel discussion.

“Solar is the cheapest and greenest energy. In Cambodia, around 500 megawatts have been installed in the grid already. Cambodia should become the regional leader In RE. By doing so, it will decrease CO2 emissions coming from the energy sector while reducing risk from volatile fossil fuel prices and increasing competitiveness of local products for exports,” he added.

CEW22 is organized by EnergyLab and made possible by found sponsors Australian Aid and the UNDP, and co-founders, the European Union and Oxfam. Other supporting partners and sponsors, include CominAsia, Heineken, and Mitsubishi Corporation.

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