China plays key role in securing energy security in Cambodia: officials, academics

China has played a crucial role in securing Cambodia's energy security, which is a key element for socio-economic development, Cambodian officials and academics said here on Tuesday.

Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman and director-general for Energy, Heng Kunleang, said Chinese-invested projects such as hydropower dams, coal-fired power plants, and solar power plants accounted for 65.7 percent of the total energy generated in Cambodia.

"Chinese-invested energy plants have been playing a vital role in Cambodia's socio-economic development, contributing to securing the stable and reliable supply of electricity in the kingdom," he told Xinhua.

The participation of Chinese firms in the energy sector has also helped ensure the reasonable prices of electricity in the Southeast Asian nation, Kunleang said.

The spokesman said the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has encouraged Chinese investors to invest in Cambodia's energy sector, particularly in renewable energy such as hydropower dams and solar power stations.

Heng Sokkung, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, said Chinese-invested power plants have helped stabilize production in factories, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A stable electricity supply is vital to ensuring the sustainability of our garment, footwear and travel goods industry, which is the key driver of economic growth and the main source of job creation," he told Xinhua.

With competitive electricity prices, Made-in-Cambodia products are also able to compete with those made in other countries on international markets.

Environment Ministry's secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Chinese-built hydropower plants are important to ensure Cambodia's energy security and they have tremendously benefited the whole Cambodia and its people.

He added that those projects have also paid high attention to environmental protection, complying with all requirements in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) paper.

Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Chinese-invested power plants have not only provided reliable electricity to households and businesses, but also helped attract more foreign investors to the kingdom.

"Stable electricity is a key artery for supporting our economic development and it builds confidence among investors," he told Xinhua. "Chinese investments in this sector have not only helped boost the economy, but also contributed to reducing poverty."

Vannak said the BRI has given a big boost to the development of the energy sector here.

"I believe that the BRI will bring more investment not only in the energy sector, but also in transport infrastructure and logistics development in Cambodia," he said. "These areas are fundamental for the country's economic growth in the long term."

Electricity demand in Cambodia was 4,014 megawatts (MWs) in 2021, the Electricity Authority of Cambodia said.

About 3,033 MWs were generated domestically by hydroelectric dams, coal-fired power plants, diesel-fired power plants, solar power parks, and biomass power plants, it said, adding that 981 MWs were imported from neighboring Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.  

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