Rural electrification aims to be complete by 2023
The Ministry of Mines and Energy has announced a 2023 target date for the electrification of the Kingdom’s rural villages.
Victor Jona, director-general of energy and spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the 2023 target date will see electrification having been delivered to at least 99.5 percent of the 14,168 villages across the nation.
He said that 2020 figures show 13,798 of the Kingdom’s villages having electrification. The number of villages remaining to be serviced with electricity was 370.
He added while the population expanded in rural areas, some villages located on islands (river or sea) remain difficult to supply with electricity. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic also put 2020 expansion plans for the supply of power to non-electrified villages on hold.
“Thus, from this year until 2023, we [will endeavour] to supply electricity to [a minimum of at] least 99.5 percent of all the non-electrified villages across the country. Non-electrified villages will be [powered via] mini grids or solar panels,” Jona added.
According to the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) report, The Kingdom’s Salient Features of Power Development 2020, power source capacity in 2020 was 3,897 megawatts (mW). The amount of energy delivered was 12,499 gigawatt hours (gWh).
The report said the power supply was delivered by domestic and imported generation. Total domestic power generation was 2,916 mW. The sources of that volume were 675 mW of coal-fired generation, 643 mW achieved by the burning of fuel oil, 1,329 mW from hydro-electric production with solar sources accounting for 236.80 mW and biomass generating the remaining 30.57 mW. Cambodia imported around 980 mW, of which 277.30 mW was sourced from Thailand, 332.45 mW were delivered from Vietnam and 371 mW came from Laos.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia’s resident representative, Nick Beresford, has noted that solar technology is far cheaper than carbon-based energy and provides clean electricity. To that end, the UNDP is working with the Ministry of Mines and Energy on projects to ensure the country fully benefits from this relatively new, sustainably sound technology.
“There are [many] villages off the grid that are classified as hard to reach. The UNDP, together with the ministry, is helping provide quality energy to these villages using direct current [DC)] mini-grids,” said Beresford.
He added it provides a cheaper and more reliable energy supply. “We are at the pilot stage now and we hope to see DC mini-grids rolled out for all off-grid villages.”
Beresford said solar-powered water pumps are a great low-cost option for farmers because they are easy to move and can increase yields. The UNDP together with the Ministry of Mines and Energy and South Korea is helping to extend their use and build up local service centres.
Cambodia is particularly well-suited for solar energy because it receives good quality sunlight in areas of high energy demand. Reform of rooftop solar energy regulations has the potential to better exploit this opportunity and is another area being worked on.
He added the government is making significant investments to improve the stability of the grid which will allow a more decentralised, stable and efficient energy system. There are major opportunities in new digital energy technology to ease the building into the grid of more solar power. These include supervisory control and data acquisition, energy management systems and demand-side management which would allow Cambodia to improve grid management and control. Khmer Times