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Biggest solar farm set to more than double in capacity

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A solar farm in Banteay Meanchey province. Hean Rangsey

Biggest solar farm set to more than double in capacity

Plans are underway to expand the capacity of the Kingdom’s largest solar power station, by nearly 167 per cent from 90MW to 240MW, to help meet demand and reduce energy costs, according to the head of state-run electric utility Electricite du Cambodge (EdC).

Owned and developed by SchneiTec Co Ltd, the solar farm was built at a total cost of $28 million with an initial capacity of 60MW on a 135ha site in Ansar Kdam village, Sna Ansa commune of Pursat province’s easternmost district of Krakor. It is located within the boundaries of Krakor Special Economic Zone.

During a visit elsewhere in the district on January 16, EdC director-general Keo Rottanak commented on the value of the record-setting project as a clean energy source, and confirmed that Prime Minister Hun Sen had agreed to the expansion, according to local online media outlet Fresh News.

Rottanak sees the project as the future location for field trips and research experiences for students, technicians and scientists, as well as a source of great pride for the people of Krakor as well as Pursat, which he said was selected by the government to develop the labour market and cut migration.

Pursat provincial governor Cheav Tay told The Post that the generation of solar power has greatly benefitted the people of Pursat as well as other provinces.

“Solar-generated power does not adversely affect the environment and helps push down electricity rates,” he said, noting that electrification in Pursat now exceeds 90 per cent.

He also noted that a South Korean-developed 80MW hydropower plant in Pursat was now 10 per cent complete.

Local investors, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises have often complained that high electricity rates have had a significant impact on the competitiveness of domestic products in the internal market, relative to imports.

Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec) president Te Taingpor pointed out that electricity and transport rates in the Kingdom remain higher than in neighbouring countries despite government benefits, which he said amount to a one-fifth reduction in associated costs.

This makes the processing of higher value products unfeasible, forcing Cambodia to export a lot of raw materials, he rued.

He advocated for more power plants, saying the facilities would slash costs for local producers and remove a major impediment to the competitiveness of a growing share of businesses.

“If the government allows investors to bankroll the development of more solar power plants, this would promote more competition as electricity rates dip, giving local products a leg up to outshine those from Vietnam or Thailand,” Taingpor said.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia announced in April 2019 that it had approved a final registration certificate for SchneiTec Co Ltd’s solar farm.

Krakor Special Economic Zone also houses a garment factory, a transformer factory, and an assembly plant for Ford vehicles and parts.

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