Phnom Penh City Hall Hoping to Turn Garbage Into Electricity

The Phnom Penh Municipal Government on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Inter Far East Engineering Public Company Limited of Thailand to study the feasibility of turning the city’s waste into energy, according to a notice posted on the municipality’s website.

Mean Chanyada, the city’s deputy director of administration, said in the statement that the amount of garbage collected each day across Phnom Penh was expected to jump from 1,300 tons now to 2,000 tons by 2018.

“The quantity of garbage that has increased in Phnom Penh at the present has made problems and will affect the city environment if we don’t pay attention,​” he said.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the MOU was a preliminary agreement for study and research and that the city hoped to find another five companies—or more—whose proposals would all be compared.

At Thursday’s MOU signing, Far East Engineering director Wichai Thavormwa Thanayon said the company’s plan would be groundbreaking.

“This MOU is a pioneer for recycling the garbage to electricity so that 200 tons of waste could be used to create five megawatts of electricity each day,” he said, according to the statement.

Inter Far East Engineering Public Company Limited has only recently moved into the alternative energy business. In April, it acquired True Energy Power Lopburi Company Limited, which operates a biomass power plant in Thailand’s Lopburi province with a capacity of 6.8 MW.

Thailand, however, offers considerable tax breaks to companies investing in renewable energy projects, something Phnom Penh City Hall has so far failed to do, said Yang Saing Koma, president of local agricultural NGO Cedac.

“Phnom Penh’s garbage problem is a serious one, so it is a positive to find ways to solve it. But so far, [City Hall] has struggled to encourage enterprises into recycling projects such as composting and biomass,” he said.

“If they wish to replicate what is happening in Thailand, they need to offer similar concessions such as tax incentives.”

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