How Does Cambodia Improve Its Electricity Security Problem?

In 2016 only 50% of Cambodia’s population was connected to the national grid, however by 2019 this figure has increased up to an impressive 80%. However, the challenge still remains to get this figure nearer 100% and this is to be done by connecting the more rural areas of Cambodia up with electricity. It Is thought that the lack of electricity access and security within the nation is what is halting its economic growth.

Cambodia had a Power Sector Strategy from 1999 to 2016 which aimed to provide household energy security across the nation, unfortunately this had limited success. The strategy was meant to provide an adequate supply of reasonably priced electricity throughout Cambodia to match the expansion of the country’s economy. For example, from March to June 2019 there was a massive shortage of 400 megawatts of power. This came about due to weather conditions where a low water level in one of the hydropower reservoirs resulted in a lower output of electricity for the dry season. This shortage shows the lack of electricity security that Cambodia currently has.

In 2011, there was a law passed in Cambodia which had the aim of making sure customers in Cambodia receive a reliable and adequate supply of electricity, reasonably priced. However, the Cambodian electricity tariff is the highest out of all the ASEAN countries. This should not be the case. Cambodia should have much lower tariffs due to the conventional methods in which they produce their electricity, unlike some of the other neighbouring nations. This therefore means that the higher electricity prices are more than likely down to the government. There is also a general discomfort from the general public of Cambodia towards the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, who manage the supply and pricing of electricity, due to the high prices and frequent blackouts.

There are some measures which can be taken by the government to improve the access to electricity and energy security for the nation. For example, the government should firstly target those who don’t have enough electricity to meet their everyday needs. This can be done by setting up solar panels on top of roofs, investing in larger scale windfarms or even the use of standalone small generators are all more short term fixes for remote areas. From this the government should carry on investing in these areas to create a long-term sustainable access to the electricity grid.

The government also needs to improve the pricing of electricity and how volatile it can be. This could be done by setting up an institution to run and look after energy supply throughout the country and has back up plans for when there are electricity supply disruptions.

Finally, the government should look at investing in more efficient ways of generating their electricity and making sure it’s getting used efficiently. Whether this be by investing in newer more efficient plants directly or by improving the efficiency of how the electricity is transported around the nation by improving the nations national grid, both will benefit the nation. Leading to fewer blackout, lower costs and improved reliability. Doing this will allow for better access to electricity and security, and in turn allow the country to have improved economic growth.

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