By Chea Vannak
Stung Treng, Cambodia, October 5, 2016
The Lower Sesan II dam is expected to generate electricity as planned by 2017, filling a power void in the country as national grid construction is under way, according to the deputy provincial governor of Stung Treng.
The dam, located in Stung Treng province’s Sesan district, will generate up to 400 megawatts of electricity and will be the biggest hydropower dam in the country.
Dam construction will be completed and power generation will begin by the end of 2017, deputy provincial governor Duong Pov said yesterday. The national grid construction from Stung Treng to other provinces is under way.
“Authorities from the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Cambodia’s Electricity Authority [EDC] are working to connect the national grid from Stung Treng province to Kratie, and on to Kampong Cham,” Mr. Pov said.
“We see that laying the infrastructure for the national grid is mostly finished but there are no power lines on the pillars yet.”
Construction of the 75-meter-high dam began last year with a total cost estimated at $816 million. China’s Lancang Hydropower International Energy has a 51 percent stake in the project, Cambodia’s Royal Group owns 39 percent, and Vietnam’s EVN International owns 10 percent.
Once electricity is generated, the dam will supply power to other provinces and Phnom Penh, Mr. Pov added.
In an interview last December in China’s Yunnan province, chief engineer of Lancang Hydropower Ai Yongping said the dam would be a crucial power source to help communities and society as a whole in Cambodia.
“We want to build the Lower Sesan II to be a mammoth project in Cambodia,” he said.
Currently, Cambodia has six operating dams that generate about 61 percent of the electricity used nationwide. The rest is generated from biomass- and coal-fired plants, and electricity imported from Vietnam and Thailand.
EDC president Keo Ratanak told reporters in late August that Cambodia has reduced the amount of electricity imports from neighboring countries as electricity generation from dams and coal-fired plants in the country increases.
“The price of electricity will decrease step by step in forthcoming years due to new sources of electricity generated domestically,” he said. “The increased capacity of electricity generated will help Cambodia have a stable supply of electricity. The quality of power in the future for Cambodian people not only creates job opportunities but also helps people’s daily lives.”
By 2020, according to Mr. Ratanak, Cambodia will have full electricity stability generated from hydropower dams, coal-fired plants, biomass-fired plants and renewable solar energy.
Local media reported yesterday that 80 percent of the Lower Sesan II dam was completed and by October 2017, the first turbine would start generating power. By the end of 2018, according to the media reports, a total of eight turbines would be fully operational ‒ generating 400 megawatts per hour.