PHNOM PENH, Nov 26 (Bernama) -- Ten companies from eight countries have sought permission to invest in solar energy projects in Cambodia, after the removal of a 15 percent duty on imports of the materials needed to build solar plants in August, China's Xinhua news agency cited a local media as saying.
"We have received many proposals for our approval, and we are now instructing them to study the domestic electricity market," the ministry Secretary of State Sat Samy was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.
"Two companies, from Japan and Malaysia, are close to beginning development on solar investment projects."
The other companies are from the United States, China, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Singapore, he said. They were planning developments capable of generating between 10 and 50 megawatts of electricity.
The Cambodian government plans to supply electricity throughout the entire country by 2020 by developing renewable energy resources, specifically looking at solar, hydro and biomass- fueled power, Sat Samy said.
Energy demand in Cambodia is expected to grow 3.7 percent per year from 2005 to 2030 as manufacturing industries are established and more households are connected to the electricity grid, according to a report released this month by the Asian Development Bank.
Just 20 percent of households are currently connected to the national grid, which is fragmented into isolated power systems centered on provincial towns and cities.
Sat Samy said the unserviced households present an opportunity for environmentally friendly electricity investment, adding that the solar industry had greater potential than in more-developed countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Sat Samy said he anticipated electricity generated from solar panels would range from US$0.12 cents to US$0.15 cents a kilowatt-hour, higher than the expected price of the power to be generated from hydroelectric dams under construction along the Kingdom's rivers.