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Cambodia Eyes Hydro, Steam and Fast Power Innovation

An early start, and heavy rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of Cambodia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Suy Sem, the US Ambassador to Cambodia, William Heidt, and more than 140 guests attending the Powering Cambodia workshop in Phnom Penh on November 22.

Organized by Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and GE, the event attracted industry stakeholders including government officials, business and power sector leaders, investors, and GE experts from around the world, to discuss new solutions to help Cambodia reach its energy goals.

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Cambodia’s Minister for Mines and Energy, Suy Sem (center) was guest of honor at the Powering Cambodia Workshop.  Other special guests, and GE executives included, from left: Victor Jona, Director General of Energy, Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), Hul Kinnavuth, Vice Chairman, Electricity Authority of Cambodia, US Ambassador to Cambodia, William Heidt, Minister Suy Sem, Dararith Lim, Country Leader and Market Development Manager, GE Cambodia, Wouter Van Wersch,

President & CEO GE ASEAN and Ith Praing, Secretary of State, MME.

Hydro and fast power innovations in demand

Attendees were eager to learn about energy generating alternatives, and new technologies to help Cambodia better manage hydropower capacity during the dry, hot season from March until May.

As Cambodia plans to provide electricity to most of its rural villages by 2020, there was also big interest in GE’s fast power solutions like the TM2500 mobile gas turbine generator, used to supply power to Indonesia’s remote islands. Known as the “power plant on wheels,” the truck-mounted TM2500 generator produces power at – or near – the point of use, and can be operational in six months or less.

Cambodia also aims to reduce power demand by 20% until 2035, and national CO2 emissions in 2035 by three million tons. Meeting these targets could be challenging as Cambodia needs more affordable power to meet energy targets, and support an economic growth rate of 7%+. MME forecasts consumption will reach 3.4TWh by 2020, representing an average annual growth rate of 9.4%.

President & CEO GE ASEAN, Wouter Van Wersch shares some of his workshop highlights, and key learnings.

Cambodia’s energy pivot

In his welcome address, Minister Suy Sem said, “As Cambodia enters a new period of growth, it is important that we utilize all the available fuel resources in the most efficient ways possible. Hydro is expected to dominate our fuel mix by 2035, followed by coal. This is a big change from the oil dominated market today,” said the Minister.

“As we transition, the Ministry of Mines and Energy values partnerships with GE. We believe GE, with more than 200 years of energy industry experience, is a strong partner to bring cleaner, more cost-effective power to every Cambodian.”

In reply,

President & CEO GE ASEAN, Wouter Van Wersch said GE is well-set to support Cambodia.

“We not only see the opportunity for GE to contribute to Cambodia’s infrastructure in power generation and transmission, but also in healthcare and the aviation sector,” said Van Wersch.

“We will work with the Ministry of Mines and Energy to increase power capacity, and we want to invest more to bring the right technology, and increase the technical capacity of the Cambodian people.”

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Powering Cambodia attracted more than 140 attendees including government officials, and business and power sector leaders. This was the second event of its kind in ASEAN this year – Powering Indonesia was held in Jakarta in September.

New solutions for new opportunities

New energy technologies and solutions were profiled by GE experts from the Power, Digital, Energy Connections, and Renewable Energy businesses. They highlighted innovations to produce more affordable, reliable energy, including developments in microgrids from full-turnkey solutions, to customized offerings for rural electrification. GE digital industrial software, and apps were also covered.

To help Cambodia re-balance its energy mix, Nigel Hales, senior business development manager, GE Power said coal-fired plants will make a difference.

“Coal plants will reduce Cambodia’s dependence on hydro generated electricity, and hence alleviate the impact of dry weather conditions.

“However, while fossil fuel use is growing in Cambodia and demand is increasing, coal fired power generation needs to be as clean as possible. Given this, we see great potential for our clean power offerings, smaller sized units with higher efficiencies and very low emissions. For example, our ultrasupercritical steam generation technology has achieved net plant efficiencies up to 47 percent—a world record, and hence, we are leading the way in lowering fuel consumption and emissions,” said Hales.

Bespoke microgrids

Ambassador Heidt said grid modernization is another urgent priority.

“A 2013 report by the World Bank showed that electricity distribution losses in Cambodia were about 27% of percent of output, which is high. Making the grid more efficient would transform Cambodia’s ability to provide reliable and affordable energy to the people with potentially huge cost savings.”

Stephane Leyo, senior global and key accounts manager, GE Energy Connections said the country could support large and customized grid networks.

“From what we have learned today, there is a big opportunity for both traditional grid expansion and microgrids – smaller, more piecemeal grid projects that can supply power to people in remote areas.”

Leyo added, “As microgrid innovation is poised to transform energy distribution – like smartphones did for telecommunications – Cambodia could soon install more affordable, cutting-edge grid technologies.”

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Charles Hucault, operations specialist, GE Renewable Energy Hydro, flew in from France to discuss hydro solutions relevant for Cambodia’s energy needs.

New frontier for wind energy

Is wind power viable in Cambodia? This question was on the minds of many attendees. Peter Cowling, general manager of GE’s wind business in Asia Pacific, shared a map which revealed two regions with potential.

While hydro and solar are the favored renewable sources for Cambodia, Cowling said wind farms in the north east, and south west are realistic options in the future – high-level modelling suggests plausible wind resources, similar in quality to Thailand and Vietnam.

“The latest wind energy technologies available today, and future innovations, have great potential in Cambodia,” said Cowling. In terms of equipment, he said GE’s new 3.6-137 onshore wind turbine is a good match for Cambodia’s low-wind speed conditions.

Collaboration on Emissions Research

The closing remarks were given by Dr. Ith Praing, Secretary of State, MME who said more MME-GE joint activities are in the pipeline, including an emissions research project with GE.

“MME values the contribution of GE in Cambodia through many activities that bring practical benefits to local communities.

“As an outcome of this workshop, MME and GE will also look forward to a partnership and signing a MoU for future cooperation. This will primarily target improving the efficiency and emissions of current power plants and optimization of the electricity network nationwide. We expect MME and GE to work together for the Cambodia power sector to meet its long-term goals aiming at improving electricity access and reducing emissions.”

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