A Cambodian energy official said the country no longer plans to build a coal-fired power plant along the nation’s southwest coast, and will instead move forward with a natural gas-fired facility.
Energy Minister Keo Rottanak told the Reuters news service an official announcement is expected Nov. 30. Rottanak said the proposed 700-ME coal-fired plant, which was sited near the Botum Sakor National Park, a protected nature preserve along the southwest coast of Koh Kong province, is being canceled in favor of an 800-MW gas-fired station.
“The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet will announce on Nov. 30 the cancellation of the 700-MW coal power plant project in Koh Kong and the plan to replace it with an 800-MW LNG [liquefied natural gas] to be commissioned after 2030,” Rottanak told Reuters. The new plan likely will include construction of an LNG import terminal that would provide fuel for the power plant. The LNG import terminal would be the first in Cambodia, and marks the third new LNG market in Southeast Asia in the past year. The Philippines and Vietnam each received their first shipments of LNG this year.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet is expected to announce the new gas-fired plant at a ceremony Thursday. The prime minister also is expected to announce plans for a new hydropower dam in the same region. Government data shows Cambodia received 54% of its electricity from hydropower in 2022, followed by 35.5% from coal-fired generation.
Opposition to Coal-Fired Plant
Details of the gas-fired power plant and LNG terminal’s cost have not been released. The proposed Botum Sakor coal-fired plant faced opposition from environmental groups primarily because of its proximity to the national park and forest area populated by several endangered animal species, according to reports. The coal plant had been expected to enter commercial operation in 2025.
Rottanak in a statement said, “Cambodia is fully committed to doing whatever it can to achieve net zero by 2050. Our first stop before that is at least 70% renewables by 2030 with energy efficiency and electrification programs as part of the integrated strategy.”
Cambodian officials have previously said they would not develop new coal-fired power plants, while acknowledging the country was still committed to existing plans for the Botum Sakor station, and the 265-MW Han Seng coal-fired facility in Oddar Meanchey province in northern Cambodia. The Han Seng plant was originally scheduled to come online last year, but construction at the site was halted more than a year ago. Huazi International, a contractor that took over the project in September, has said it plans to add at least 200 MW of solar power generation capacity at the site. Government officials have said plans for the coal-fired plant at the site have not changed even as construction has ceased.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).