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Cambodia scraps coal-fired power plant project

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 11:34 AM
Tan KW
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SINGAPORE: Cambodia has abandoned plans to build a US$1.5bil 700 megawatt coal-fired power project in a protected reserve along the country’s south-western coast and will build an 800MW natural-gas fired plant instead, its energy minister says.

As part of the project, Cambodia is exploring construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to import the super-chilled fuel and re-gasify it for use in the power plant, Energy Minister Keo Rottanak told Reuters.

The planned LNG terminal, likely to be a fixed land-based facility, would be Cambodia’s first and would make it a new import market in South-East Asia. Vietnam and the Philippines took their first shipments this year.

“The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will announce on Nov 30 the cancellation of the 700MW coal power plant project in Koh Kong and the plan to replace it with an 800MW LNG plant to be commissioned after 2030,” Rottanak told Reuters.

He did not say how much the gas-fired plant and LNG terminal might cost.

The planned Botum Sakor coal plant had been criticised by environmentalists and some residents for encroaching on some of Cambodia’s densest forest areas, risking the disruption of livelihoods and polluting the reserve, home to dozens of endangered species, with coal dust.

The decision to scrap the coal project, which had been due to start producing power by the end of 2025, reflects the country’s commitment to cleaner power, Rottanak said.

Cambodia wants to lift its share of clean generation capacity to 70% by 2030 from 52% in 2022 by building new solar and wind farms and hydro projects.

“The announcement will be in Cambodia, but it will be a signal to COP28,” Rottanak said, referring to the United Nations annual climate conference that begins this week in Dubai, which Cambodia’s environment ministry officials will be attending.

Cambodia, where power demand has grown about 15% annually in the last decade, has tapped hydropower to address surging electricity demand, unlike other countries in the region such as Malaysia and Vietnam, which have moved towards coal.

Clean power sources, mainly hydropower, have accounted for the lion’s share of the country’s annual electricity use, but Cambodia has struggled with output volatility due to increasingly frequent weather-related disruption to hydropower generation, its main power source.

Cambodia announced about two years ago it would not build any new coal-fired power projects, except for those already under construction.

 - Reuters

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