Presently only 26% households in Cambodia have access to electricity which is generated using imported fossil fuels. Outside the provincial towns, electricity is rare, with only about 6% of rural households having access to power supply, and another 3% owning some type of power generating unit. Of the remaining 91% of the rural population, 55% use automobile batteries for occasional and limited use, or do without electricity completely (36%).The majority of the transmission network operates at 230 kV, with 115 kV feeders serving major towns. The majority of the grid infrastructure is concentrated around the capital, Phnom Penh, with a limited network around the Battambang hydropower plant in the north-west of the country. The country does not have a National Grid but three interconnected power systems: the Phnom Penh, North-western Grid and the Southern Grid systems as well as two systems, one connected to the system in Thailand and other connected to the system in Vietnam through MV connections by end of 2009.An estimated 600 privately-owned Rural Electricity Enterprises (REEs) supply some 5% of the country’s electricity consumption to 115,000 customers in rural areas and small towns. The REEs provide a wide range of services, from recharging batteries, to distribution to houses, and officially operate under one year approvals granted by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME). However, in practice, the majority of REEs operate unapproved. Small diesel-based generators (owned on a municipal basis, non-commercially) under the responsibility of MIME account for the remaining 5% of total electricity consumption through small, isolated grids. These enterprises provide a possible private sector-led framework for developing local systems.
Cambodia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 18 December 1995 and the Kyoto Protocol on 22 August 2002. For this purpose, the Environment Protection and Natural Resource Management Law from 1996 requests all energy power projects to be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment procedures. An Environmental Steering Committee and Project Review Teams were established.Power Sector Strategy 1999-2016Access to sustainable energy services is a critical factor in Cambodia reaching its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the targets in the National Strategic Development Plan 2006-2010 (NSDP) for reduction of fuel wood dependency and poverty. In 1999, the Government approved the Cambodia Power Sector Strategy 1999-2016. The objectives of this policy are:1. To provide an adequate supply of energy throughout Cambodia at reasonable and affordable price;2. To ensure a reliable, secure electricity supply, at prices which facilitate investment in Cambodia and development of the national economy;3. To encourage exploration and environmentally and socially acceptable development of energy resources for all sectors of the Cambodian economy;4. To encourage the efficient use of energy, and minimise detrimental environmental effects resulting from energy supply and use. The energy strategy in Cambodia covers four main categories: the electricity strategy, renewable energy, a power sector strategy and a wood energy strategy.The Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) goals submitted to the 5th East Asia Summit Energy Ministers Meeting, held on 20 September 2011 in Brunei Darussalam, state that the country uses Final Energy Demand as the EE Indicator, and aims at 10% reduction from Business as Usual by 2030. The action plans to achieve the EE&C goals cover the usage of energy by industry, transport and commercial & residential such as the introduction of energy efficient equipments and EE labelling as well as the promotion of EE awareness of public. Rural Electrification by Renewable Energy PolicyThe government, in 2006, approved the Rural Electrification by Renewable Energy Policy. Its main objective is to create an enabling framework for renewable energy technologies to increase access to electricity in rural areas. The policy acknowledges the Master Plan Study on Rural Electrification by Renewable Energy in the Kingdom of Cambodia as the guiding document for the implementation of projects and programmes. The Master Plan envisions:1) to achieve a 100% level of village electrification, including battery lightning, by 2020;2) to achieve a 70% level of household electrification with grid quality electricity by 2030. In addition, Cambodia aims at 15% of rural electricity supply from solar and small hydro by 2015.The Rural Electrification Fund (REF) has been continuing its programme of providing grant assistance to licensees for new connections to households in rural areas. For this programme, REF received funds from Government of Cambodia through loan from the World Bank.Renewable Electricity Action Plan 2002–2012 (REAP)The REAP aims to provide cost-effective and reliable electrification of rural Cambodia through renewable energy technologies. The Plan is being implemented by the MIME, and consists of three phases: market preparation, early growth and market scale-up. The first six years of the REAP, Phase I and II, will be characterised by the following four components:i. Technical Assistance for Policy and Regulationii. Public and Private Sector Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Buildingiii. National Awareness and Market Structure Developmentiv. Priority Renewable Electricity ProjectsThe REAP is expected to provide electricity to over 145,000 households and commercial entities through installation and operation of 10–17 MW of renewable generation.Cambodia is developing ambitious rural electrification programmes based on SHS concessions. It is embracing community electrification schemes that utilise hybrid systems or hybrid plants.Basic Bio-energy Policy states that Cambodia has a great opportunity to become a bio-energy producer for not only domestic supply but even for possible bio-energy exporter using large underutilized or unused land. Thus, Government policy supports and encourages investors in the context of biofuel investment by providing concession land as possible (Based on Sub Decree on Concession Land). In accordance with this policy, the country plans to formulate a multi-Ministry Bio-Energy Committee and Bio-Energy Act or Sub Decree. Government officials recognise some barriers to development of biofuels and rural renewable energy as: limited information and low level of awareness; weak coordination between relevant agencies; lack of skilled personnel and training facilities; commercial non-viability; inadequate financing arrangement; and unfavourable import taxes and tariff systems.National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) of Cambodia 2009-2013The NSDP emphasizes the importance of energy for development of the country and give priority to ensure efficiency and sustainability of production, supply and proper maintenance of the power infrastructure across the whole country. The strategy also points out the importance of making electricity available to the poor at an affordable price as well as attracting private sector investment and their active participation in expanding the power infrastructure in order to meet the growing demand for electricity.Energy is central to sustainable growth and poverty reduction efforts. It affects all aspects of development -- social, economic, and environmental -- including livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, population levels, education, and gender-related issues. None of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be met without a major improvement in the quality and quantity of energy services in developing countries. Therefore, there is an unmistakable link between energy and sustainable human development. Thus, the lack of energy and unaffordable costs correlates closely with many challenges of sustainable development.
Solar energyThe current utilisation of solar power in the country is low. Total installed capacity between 1997 and 2002 reached 205 kW and increased to over 300 kW by the beginning of 2004. The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation used a 10-year annual average solar irradiation of 5.0 kWh/m2/day, based on readings of 4.7 kWh/m2/day average in the lowest area and 5.3 kWh/m2/day in the highest area. It is estimated that the theoretical maximum potential surface solar irradiation could reach as much as 21 GWh/day (13 times the power generated by the national power utility in 2002. Solar photovoltaic systems in Cambodia currently produce 200–250 kWh. Projects with NEDO Japan, SIDA, other international and national institutions including Prime Minister Project, solar photovoltaic with the capacity of around 1.5 MW has been installed in the country.Biomass energyNatural forests are the main source of fuel-wood in Cambodia. This resource has been severely degraded over the past 20 years due to widespread logging and conversion of forestland for various purposes. Biomass energy resources also include residues from plantation forests (rubber wood), agricultural crops (rice husk), livestock (cattle manure), municipal waste, and sewage.Cambodia has significant biomass energy resources, either as standing biomass, including plantation forests such as rubber and fast growing tropical trees like Glyricidia and Acacia species, or as agricultural residues like rice husk, rice straw, corn cobs, palm oil extraction waste, cashew nut shells etc. According to a study carried out by MIME with Japan’s Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the Cambodian Research Centre for Development (CRCD) in 2004, waste biomass (agricultural residues, domestic and animal waste) – excluding that biomass available from natural forests and waste timber from wood processing sector as well as rubber tree harvested at the end of their productive life─ has an estimated energy generation potential of nearly 19,000 GWhr per year. It can be used both for electrical energy generation, or converted into other fuels such as producer gas, biogas or a range of liquid fuels (the actual amount available for these options could be lower, since some of the waste is probably already being used for other purposes).Biomass-based energy generation in Cambodia has gain momentum during last 2-3 years principally applying biomass gasification technology both for captive consumption as well as electricity generation and supply companies. Though biomass-based gasification system is quiet flexible in terms of its capacity as per requirement, hours of operation and duel fuel generators to ensure uninterrupted supply, however, gasifier electricity generation efficiency is low, application is limited for smaller capacity. In addition, the fuel used at present in major successful gasifiers fabricated locally is wood which may not be sustainable as demand increases and only a few use Indian technologies which make use of rice husk. Based on the conventional steam route, there are currently two operating units using biomass as fuel in this capacity range in Cambodia and only power is generated making system efficiency very low. Also little is known about their operation, maintenance, trouble shooting and efficiency in long term.BiogasThe effectiveness of small scale biogas has been demonstrated in Cambodia by a number of different projects. The use of animal wastes to generate high quality gas for cooking has significant economic, health, social and environment benefits for poor rural households. Projects with Canada in Battambang (7 kW + 20 kW) and with DEDE Thailand in Kompong Cham (30 kW) are completed. There are also ongoing projects in Sambour District, Kompong Thom Province with the capacity of 30 kW by FONDEM France by 2009 and a number of biomass gasfiers done by local investors. HydropowerThe technical potential of hydropower resources in Cambodia in terms of installed capacity is estimated at 10,000 MW. Around 50% of these resources are located in the Mekong River Basin, 40% on tributaries of the Mekong River, and the remaining 10% in the south-western coastal areas. Current use of hydropower resources is, however, relatively limited, and the current contribution to electricity production is less than 20 MW. At present, only two projects are operating, with an installed capacity of 13 MW, while four projects are being developed. Previous studies have identified 42 potential hydropower projects, with a total installed capacity of 1,825 MW, being capable of generating around 9,000 GWh/year of electricity.Wind energyThe Wind Energy Resources Atlas Report in South-east Asia that covers Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam shows that the theoretical wind energy resource potential in the country amounts to 1,380 MW. The report indicates good sites for the future development of wind energy, but the potential values must be taken cautiously, since the simulations to determine them were based on global winds, and were not supported by ground measurements. The southern part of the great lake Tonle Sap, the mountainous districts in the southwest and the coastal regions, such as Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong have the annual average wind speed of 5 m/s or greater, the total area around 5%. Pilot projects, in part financed by the government of Belgium and the European Commission, are currently in place in the country.BiofuelsThe Jatropha Curcas and Cassava species appear to be a particularly suitable source of biofuel as it already grows commonly in Cambodia and has no other commercial value. One study suggests that the biofuel could be produced in Cambodia from Jatropha on a commercial basis for around US$0.53 per litre. This compares favourably with the current price of fossil fuel diesel at US$0.64 per litre. And the production cost of the biofuel is not likely to follow the rising trend of the international oil price. More than 10 companies are using Jatropha, planting around 1,000 ha, but there is no large scale production. One company from Korea has production capacity of ethanol 36,000 t/year from 100,000 tons of cassava.