No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia will consume 2,214MW during the dry season, 414MW more than last year. Heng Chivoan

Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season.

Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and ends in April 2021 – but claimed the government has taken the necessary steps to ensure supply.

 

Sem said Cambodia will consume 2,214MW during that dry season, 414MW more than last year, but the fact that reservoirs are almost full now ensures the country suffers no chronic blackouts such as those experienced last year.

“There will be no power shortages during the next dry season. Our reservoirs are at 90 per cent of their capacity,” he said.

On top of having full reservoirs, the government has drafted a three-pronged strategy to avert a situation similar to last year’s, when power cuts became a staple of life in Phnom Penh and provinces, hindering business activity in the country.

First, Sem said, the government will work to ensure water levels at reservoirs is sufficient to cover the dry season.

Second, power imported from Laos and Thailand will be used to supplement the supply. And finally, the government has readjusted its energy strategy to prioritise the generation of sustainable energy like solar, wind and biomass.

“We have imported more than 30MW from Thailand, 150 megawatts from Laos, and 195MW form Don Sahong Dam [in Laos]. Additionally, our coal-fired power plant in Sihanoukville generated 150MW last year,” he said.

 

Sem noted that two 200MW generators – purchased from Germany and Finland – will generate about 100MW by April and 300MW by June.

The private sector welcomed the government’s announcement.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post on Tuesday that having a reliable energy supply helps guarantee a certain output and maintain the sector’s competitiveness.

“We are delighted with the announcement and hope the supply will be sufficient so that we can maintain a constant level of production,” he said.

Cambodia spent $8 million buying electricity from Laos last year, according to Vientiane Times.

The Kingdom now generates most of its energy from hydropower dams and coal-fired plants, accounting for around 48 per cent and 47 per cent of power production. Around 15 per cent is imported from neighbouring countries.