Koh Kong’s First Coal-fired Plant Up In The Air: Ministry

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The investors of a project to build the first coal-fired power plant in Koh Kong province are still looking for buyers, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Power lines in Kampong Speu province. KT/Chor Sokunthea

In 2017, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, a government-owned utility, started negotiations on building a 2,400-megawatt coal-fired plant in Koh Kong. The company is still looking for a buyer for the power that will be produced at the facility, according to Victor Jona, director-general of energy.

Mr Jona said progress on the project stalled because investors and buyers were previously unable to agree on the terms of purchase.

He was speaking after a meeting with Thailand’s Ministry of Energy and PTT, Thailand’s leading energy firm, to discuss energy cooperation.

“The investors and the Thai buyers could not agree on the price at which the energy will be sold,” Mr Jona said.

The process of building the first coal-fired power plant in Koh Kong began in 2008, when the government approved a plan by a Thai investor to conduct a feasibility study to build a $5-billion coal-fired power plant in the province.

The plant was intended to produce 3,600 megawatts of electricity for the Thai market, while 200 to 300 mega­watts were to be sold for Cambodian use.

In 2015, two other investors – Thailand Samart and Koh Kong Utility –partnered to build a 2,000-MW coal-fired power plant, but the project was dropped because the investors and the buyer failed to agree.

According to Mr Jona, the government is open to investments on coal power.

“We have given investors permission to conduct feasibility studies. If a company finds potential in a project, they are welcomed to apply for permission. After that, they can start negotiating with buyers,” Mr Jona said.

There are already a few coal-fired power plants online in Cambodia.

Cambodian Energy Co Ltd (CEL), a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Leader Universal Holdings, operates two 50-MW coal-fired power plants in Preah Sihanouk, while CIIDG Erdos Hongjun Electric Power has three 135-MW coal-fired power plants in the same province.

Han Seng Coal Mine Co Lte built a 200-MW coal-fired plant in Oddar Meanchey province that will be generating 100 MW a year by November 2020 and 200 MW by November 2021.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.