With one of the world’s highest average peak sun hours, Cambodia is an attractive market for any company operating in the thriving global solar industry. Indeed, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) panels, is now seeking to increase its presence in the country.
A representative of Shanghai-based JinkoSolar, who joined the Cambuild expo taking place in Phnom Penh this week, told Khmer Times yesterday that Cambodia presents the ideal conditions for a prosperous solar sector, including plenty of daylight hours, increasing levels of energy consumption due to rising living standards and a lack of cheap energy options.
Warren Lee, business development manager for Southeast Asia at JinkoSolar, said Cambodia’s average of 5.8 peak sunlight hours a day makes it one of the world’s top solar resources. He said that the country is now too dependent on coal and hydroelectric energy, as well as energy imports from Vietnam and Thailand, and believes now is the time to consider more environmentally friendly (but still relatively cheap) alternatives like solar.
“Together with high electricity rates, unreliable sources of power, and skyrocketing demand for electricity, Cambodia, in principle, could provide attractive business cases for solar energy.
“With a dramatic reduction in the price of solar power and grid parity just around the corner, the Cambodian government shows great interest in solar and has set ambitious goal to develop the sector,” Mr Lee said.
“All this is making us increase our investment and presence in the country. As the world largest solar module producer, we are looking at the Cambodian market as the next big market opportunity in Asia,” he said.
The Asia Development Bank (ADB) is now conducting a feasibility study for a 100-megawatt solar park in Cambodia. The study is expected to be finished in November, when the bidding process for the project will begin.
The specific location of the massive ADB-backed solar park has not been determined yet, but an official of the Ministry of Mines and Energy told Khmer Times recently that it will be built somewhere in the border between Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang provinces, an area that already has several energy sub-stations.
ADB is expected to provide a concessional loan for the development of the project, which will include climate finance from the Climate Investment Funds.
Last year, ADB provided a $9.2-million loan to Singapore-based Sunseap Group to build a 10 MW solar farm in Bavet city, Svay Rieng province. The solar farm is already in operation.
According to JinkoSolar’s Mr Lee, his company has ranked number one in the world in terms of international shipments of PV panel for the last two years.
“We will cooperate with local and foreign investors to develop solar energy solutions in Cambodia,” he said.
JinkoSolar distributes its solar products and services to a diversified international utility, commercial and residential customer base, Mr Lee added.
With seven hydropower plants expected to be fully operational by the end of 2018, total energy output in the country will soon reach 1,329 MW, according to a recent report by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia.
The report said that 538 MW will come from coal power plants, 251 MW from fossil fuel power stations, and 72 MW from renewable energy sources.