The Cambodian government, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on June 9 launched a new initiative to electrify villages in the Kingdom that are not connected to the grid, as part of island nation’s enhanced engagement in the Mekong sub-region.
The Off Grid Electrification Project will provide up to A$2 million (US$1.5 million) in grants over the next two years to encourage private investment in renewable energy for areas that lack access to an electricity grid.
The initiative will be funded by the A$232 million Mekong-Australia Partnership, which aims to support economic integration and development in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, and was unveiled by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November.
Australian charge d’affaires Luke Arnold said the project would support the Cambodian government in providing high-quality, safe and affordable electricity to all Cambodians, and contribute to the Kingdom’s climate change commitments with its renewable energy focus.
“People who lack access to electricity will miss out on the benefits of Cambodia’s rapid economic growth,” Arnold said. “Connecting communities to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy will transform lives, allowing people to start small businesses, access quality education and reach their full potential.”
He explained that the project’s public-private model will stimulate significant additional investment from the private sector, drive technology and business model innovation, and ultimately provide a blueprint for further off-grid electrification in the Kingdom using renewable energy technologies.
The project is part of Australia’s broader work to support Cambodia’s energy transition, improving electricity access, strengthening reliability and reducing costs. Australia is also supporting Cambodia to develop a Renewable Energy Strategy and Assessment and strengthening links between Australian and Cambodian energy institutions.
Australia’s flagship infrastructure programme in Cambodia, Investing in Infrastructure (3i), will deliver the project. To date, 3i has stimulated investments that have connected more than 31,000 Cambodian households to the electricity grid.
Total national electricity capacity reached 2,916.02MW at end-2020, up by 22.92 per cent year-on-year from 2,372.22MW, the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) reported. Of that, 1,318.95MW came from non-renewable energy sources – coal and oil – and 1,597.07MW from renewable energy sources – hydropower, solar and biomass, it said.