700 MW Coal-Fired Powerplant Starts Operations

A China-funded 700 MW coal-fired powerplant in Sihanoukville has started generating electricity, with hopes being pinned on it helping to fill the energy gap.
View of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone. Kiripost/via SSEZ
View of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone. Kiripost/via SSEZ

China Huadian Corp’s 700-megawatt coal-fired plant in Sihanoukville has started generating energy after 72 hours of testing, aiming to help solve Cambodia’s power shortages while promoting local socioeconomic development, according to a news report.

Two phases are being developed for the project, which was approved in mid-2018 with a total installed capacity of 700 MW. The first phase includes two 350 MW supercritical coal-fired power plants.

“A coal berth of 8,000 tons and a level berth of 2,000 tons have also been built. According to the company, it is Cambodia's only coal-fired power project with the highest environmental protection standards,” China Huadian Corp said in a statement on Tuesday.

Keo Rottanak, General Director of Electricite du Cambodge ​(EDC),​ said the government has set aside money for electricity bills, however, he did not know exactly how much it will cost.

“We cannot be clear, even though it is apparent, since we do not know how much the price of oil and coal will rise. The globe is at war, and there is so much uncertainty,” Rottanak said.

Economist Ky Sereyvath said regarding Cambodia's electrical dilemma, despite the government's hydropower efforts and purchase of electricity from neighboring countries, electricity demand for has grown due to the country's rapid economic expansion.

“Cambodia's electricity sector still has problems. We see that as a result of rapid economic growth and the demand for electricity has increased, yet the current electricity is still insufficient,” Sereyvath said,

As Cambodia still has a shortage of electricity during the dry season, the country can use renewable energies to boost its electricity production.

“During the dry season, Cambodia still has a deficit of electricity, thus, in order to increase electricity production, wind fans and solar panels can be floated on the sea to generate electricity, and in some mountainous areas can also be used to produce electricity, meaning that renewable electricity is an option for Cambodia," Sereyvath told Kiripost.

Cambodia relies on hydropower generation and coal burning to account for about 80 percent of the country's total energy consumption per year.

In 2022, the Director General of Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) said that the largest solar power plant in Cambodia plans to expand its capacity from 90 MW to 240 MW to meet demand and reduce costs.

The report confirmed by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia that by the end of 2021, the local power source has a power of 3,033.02 MW, accounting for 75.57 percent, while electricity imports from neighboring countries accounted for 980.75 MW, equivalent to 24.43 percent.

According to the report, 277.30 MW were imported from Thailand, 332.45 MW from Vietnam and 371 MW from Laos.

Cambodia is in the midst of building eight power plants and hydropower plants to generate more than 2,000 MW of electricity for domestic consumption, while almost 100 percent of the village's grid connections are in place.

A report said coal, solar, and hydropower projects are being implemented in some provinces, such as Sihanoukville, Pursat, Koh Kong, Battambang, Svay Rieng, Kampong Chhnang, and Oddar Meanchey.

“Cambodia wants to import more than 2,000 MW of electricity from Laos, in addition to boosting local electricity output. Cambodia now has 10 power plants including hydroelectric facilities.” the report added.

“Electricite du Cambodge and the government will do all they can to keep electricity prices low, no matter how much the price goes up. We will help our people to pay for the loss so that they will not have to pay high prices next year,” Rottanak said.