Cambodia expands power grid to provide sustainable electricity supply

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$127.8 million loan for the construction of transmission lines and substations in Cambodia. It aims to provide Phnom Penh and three other provinces with stable and reliable electricity supply.

The project will also pilot the first utility-scale battery energy storage system in Cambodia, which will be funded by a US$6.7 million grant, according to ADB. The amount includes US$4.7 million from the Strategic Climate Fund under the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program in Low-Income Countries and US$2 million from the Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility. Both funds are administered by ADB.

“The Grid Reinforcement Project, along with ADB’s ongoing assistance to Cambodia in power system planning, shows that adequate, reliable, and environmentally sustainable power supply can be provided at a reasonable cost to support equitable development,” said Sunniya Durrani-Jamal, ADB’s country director for Cambodia  “The battery energy storage system will showcase how large-scale deployment of innovative technology applications can be used to operate Cambodia’s grid in the future and generate more renewable power.”

ADB further highlighted that the Cambodian government has set energy sector development as a national priority, as a more robust electricity supply will boost economic productivity and quality of life. While the country has made significant progress in expanding lower-cost power generation in the past 15 years, its existing transmission infrastructure is reaching capacity and needs to be expanded and reinforced to avoid supply interruptions.

The project will help the Electricite du Cambodge, Cambodia's national electricity utility, strengthen its transmission infrastructure by financing the construction of four 115–230 kV transmission lines and 10 substations in Phnom Penh and Kampong Chhang, Kamong Cham, and Takeo provinces.

The pilot battery energy storage project, located near the ADB-supported 100 MW National Solar Park, will come with on-the-job training. The Cambodian government plans to increase solar photovoltaic generation capacity to 415 MW by 2022, up from 155 MW in 2019. ADB said the battery energy storage system supported by the project is capable of storing 16 MW-hours of electricity and providing services to help with renewable energy integration, transmission congestion relief, and balancing of supply and demand, among others.

“The project, by financing and constructing much-needed transmission infrastructure for sustainable electricity supply, will boost Cambodia’s economic productivity, competitiveness, and diversification, create jobs, and support the country’s recovery from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic,” explained Daniela Schmidt, ADB energy specialist. “The project will create 1,300 direct jobs in construction, with spillover effects that will boost household incomes. It will also support the Electricite du Cambodge’s effort to promote inclusion and gender equality at the workplace and encourage women’s participation in the energy sector.”

Image: ADB