Two Japanese renewable energy firms, Aura Green Energy Co and solar panel system provider WWB Corp, plan to build rice husk-fired energy plants and solar panels in Cambodia by 2021.
Recently, a number of renewable energy firms have broken ground or expressed interest in developing operations in Cambodia, and the two Japanese companies are looking to join the Cambodian market.
Japan invests in Cambodian renewable energy
According to the Khmer Times, the Japanese firms “have teamed up to launch a hybrid power generation business, combining biomass and solar energy in Cambodia”.
The projects are reported to cost $3.7 million and will result in the total output capacity of 1,500 kilowatts. Part of the proposal is that they will supply power to the Angkor Kasekam Roongroeung Co rice mill in Kandal province with a plan to sell any surplus to a local power company.
The Phnom Penh Post also specified that “as fuel, the joint venture will use solar panels – produced by WWB Corp in Vietnam – along with rice husks supplied from a rice mill of Angkor Kasekam Roongroeung Co Ltd, a major local rice producer in Kandal province, an Aura Green Energy spokeswoman told NNA.”
The Japanese project is partly subsidised by the Japanese government (over USD $1 million), under the Joint Crediting Mechanism. Aura Green Energy estimates the project will contribute to cutting 1,316 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually from biomass power generation and 565 tonnes from solar power.
The two Japanese companies established the joint venture in Cambodia in February 2020 as a 50-50 joint venture with a capital investment of $5,000.
Power supply to rice farmers in Cambodia
Lun Yeng, Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF)’s secretary-general said Cambodia’s high cost of electricity is still the main challenge for the rice sector. However, he said the quality of electricity supply is more important adding “We could offset the cost of electricity by reducing other costs, but the issue right now is the poor quality of electricity supply that interrupts the production chain.”
He also claimed that 400 to 500 tonnes of paddy rice that is being dried is damaged when the electricity is cut off due to national power grid blackouts.
In April 2020, the Korea Energy Agency (KEA) announced that it will invest $8 million USD in a project aimed at supplying electric bikes and building solar charging stations in Cambodia.
The Kingdom also increased its total solar-power generation to 150MW (megawatts) in early 2020.
The Kingdom of Cambodia’s electricity demand is growing at an average of 16-18% annually, with an increase of 25% in 2019 from 2018. Currently, Cambodia can produce 70-80 per cent of total domestic electricity consumption.