Cambodia’s solar development moves forward with 10 MW project

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to lend €9.2 to Singapore-based Sunseap Group for the building of a 10 MW solar facility in Cambodia.

The financing package, which was provided by ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD), includes co-financing from a private sector financial institution through ADB’s B Loan program and a concessional loan from the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia (CFPS).

The project, which will be Cambodia’s first large-scale PV power plant, will be located close to Bavet, a special economic zone in the Svay Rieng province, near the border with Vietnam. Sunseap’s local unit Sunseap (Asset) Cambodia Co. Ltd has already secured a 20-year PPA for the project from local state-owned utility Electricité Du Cambodge (EDC). A consortium led by the Singapore-based company was selected to build the plant last year through a tender. The project, ADB said, is expected to come online in August 2017.

Cambodia has seen a very limited development of solar energy to date. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia is currently seeking consultants for Derisking Renewable Energy Investment (DREI) analysis and report for Solar PV in the country.

According to UNDP, several issues remain barriers in up-scaling solar technologies in the country. The organization claims Cambodian policy makers are still “reluctant to promote solar vis-á-vis coal based power generation and hydropower”. The UNDP also finds the government has not made clear yet its plans for expansion of the power grid, which is not encouraging solar investors, and that the legal framework is inadequate to “regulate safety standards of solar PV products and incentive for excess solar electricity generation”.

Almost half of Cambodia’s population has currently no access to power. The Cambodian government is targeting that at least 70% of all Cambodian households will have to have access to grid quality electricity by the year 2030 and 100% to be electrified by 2020. Although the country recently saw a huge growth in installed power generation capacity, it still relies on power imports from neighboring countries. Total installed generation capacity in2015 was 1,569 MW,producing 4,448 GWh and accounting for about 74% of total grid-supplied electricity.

According to the local solar association SEAC, currently there’s in Cambodia only 2 MW of installed PV capacity. The country’s government, however, has set no specific target for solar and renewables to date.