New Coal Plant to Tackle Blackouts

National energy supplier Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) on Monday announced that a 50-MW coal-fired power plant in Preah Sihanouk province is ready to come online this week and will solve Phnom Penh’s chronic blackouts.

In recent months, Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kompong Speu prov­inces have experienced a continuous spate of power outages during hours of maximum electricity usage due to hot weather and a lack of water in the country’s few hydropower dams.

But from later this week, the new power plant will be a significant step toward plugging the hole in the country’s energy supply, EdC president Keo Ratanak said in a statement.

“Putting the 50-MW coal pow­er plant in Preah Sihanouk province this week will allow the EdC to supply the extra power to the whole of Phnom Penh, making the major power cuts experienced so far no longer exist” the statement says.

The statement does not mention which power plant had been completed, though there are known to be two 50-MW power plants in the area—one a Cambodian-Chinese company and the other a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Leader Universal Holdings.

Cambodia still relies heavily on energy imported from neighboring countries and in May, a massive power outage in Southern Vietnam knocked out electricity and water across Phnom Penh for more than six hours.

EdC planning director Praing Chulasa said that Phnom Penh will still need to import electricity from Vietnam—which accounts for about 70 percent of its supply—but said that the new plant will do away with the seasonal shortages suffered by hydropower dams.

Despite the power plant coming online, energy experts say demand for energy in the country will far outstrip supply in the coming years.

In the long term, demand for energy in Cambodia will grow far beyond the country’s ability to create its own energy supply, said Asian Development deputy country director Bank Peter Brimble.

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