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Cambodia hydro project powers up

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-19 10:13
A bird's-eye view of Cambodia's largest hydropower project, built by China. The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in the northeastern province of Stung Treng is now operational. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese-built dam is nation's largest, and will provide electricity to local provinces

STUNG TRENG, Cambodia-Cambodia's largest hydropower project has begun producing electricity, as the country tries to increase its energy capacity and jump-start industrial expansion.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday inaugurated the 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in the northeastern province of Stung Treng. The dam is the largest and the seventh one built by China in the Southeast Asian country.

Built over four years at a cost of nearly $800 million, the project is a joint venture between China's Huaneng Hydrolancang International Energy with a 51 percent stake, Cambodia's Royal Group with 39 percent and Vietnam's EVN International with 10 percent. Ownership will be handed over to the local government after 40 years.

"It will contribute to ensuring the energy security, lowering the price of electricity, and reducing poverty in Cambodia," the prime minister said.

He said the project supplies electricity not only to Stung Treng province, but also to other provinces and the capital Phnom Penh.

"With this dam project, the electricity supply in Cambodia has increased to 2,648 MW now, up from 150 MW 20 years ago," he said.

Between them, the seven Chinese-built dams can produce 1,328 MW of power, or 50.1 percent of the country's total capacity.

The prime minister also expressed his profound gratitude to the government of China for encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, he praised the dam developer for its proper resettlement and compensation for affected residents, saying that an affected family had received a 20-meter-by-50-meter parcel of residential land and a 5-hectare plot of farmland.

Fan Qixiang, vice-president of China Huaneng Group, the parent company of Huaneng Hydrolancang International Energy, said the achievement was born of excellent cooperation between Cambodia and China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"The dam will help relieve electricity shortages, lower the price of electricity, and contribute to socioeconomic development in Cambodia," he said. "The project is a fine example of cooperation in energy sector between Cambodia and China."

Fan said the company would give top priority to the dam's safety so as to produce clean and stable electric power for Cambodia, and he was confident that the project would further deepen the relations between the two countries.

The Lower Sesan II dam, 56.5 meters tall, covers a 36,000-hectare plot.

Cambodian Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said the project is a concessional contract of a 45-year build-operate-transfer, of which, five years are for construction and 40 years are for operations.

He said the dam is estimated to produce 1.97 billion kilowatt-hours per year. According to the minister, Cambodia currently has 2,141 km of a 230-kilovolt national transmission line, along with 33 substations, which directly supply electricity to Phnom Penh and 19 other provinces out of the kingdom's 24 provinces.

To date, the Cambodian government has expanded electricity to 12,305 villages nationwide, or 86.85 percent of the country's total villages, he said, adding that a total of 2.55 million households, or 72.16 percent of the country's households, have access to the electricity.

"The development of the Lower Sesan II hydropower project provides a lot of advantages to Cambodia through creating jobs, generating tax revenue, increasing our energy independence, reducing reliance on oil-fueled power plants, and alleviating poverty," Suy Sem said.

Ki Mon, 58, living in Sesan district of Stung Treng province, said she was very pleased to see the dam development in her district, saying it provided residents with stable electricity at a cheaper price.

She said that previously, the residents in Stung Treng province relied on electricity imported from neighboring Laos.

"Currently, we have better living conditions because we have reliable electricity, national and gravel roads, health centers and schools," she told Xinhua News Agency, referring to the infrastructure development projects that the Lower Sesan II hydropower company had built for the resettled villagers.

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