Situated in the tropical region of Southeast Asia, the kingdom of Cambodia covers an area of 181 035 square kilometers (69 898 sq mi), with 800 Km border with Thailand in the west, 450 Km with Lao PDR in the north, 1 250 Km with Viet Nam in the east and a coastline of 440 Km long. The physical landscape is dominated by the lowland plains around the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap Lake. Approximately 49% remains covered by forest and there are about 2.5 million hectares of arable land and over 0.5 million hectares of pasture land. Cambodia’s climate is tropical and subject to both southeast and northwest monsoons. The southeast monsoon, which coincides with the rainy season, extends from May to October. The northwest monsoon brings a cool but drier period from November to April. The average annual rainfall is about 1500 mm, with the heaviest rainfalls of up to 4000 mm per year occurring in the southwest coastal line. The temperatures are fairly uniform in the central basin area with an average of about 27°C. The maximum temperatures in the region vary from 35°C to 38°C which are common before the start of the rainy season, but the temperatures very rarely fall below 10°C.
2. Socio-economic Situation
The population of Cambodia is estimated about 14.6 million people of which over 80 percent lives in the rural areas (World Bank, 2010). The population ethnically consists of about 90% Khmer, 5% of Vietnamese, 1% of Chinese, and 4% other (CIA, 2010). The rural populations are engaged in agriculture, fishing, forest harvesting for their livelihoods. The GDP recorded a growth of 4.5% in the year 2000 (lower than the 5.5% projected, but higher than the 4% in 1999, 1.8% in 1998, and 3.7% in 1997), and in 2001 and 2002, a growth respectively of 6% and 5.5%. From 2004 to 2007, the economy grew about 10% per year, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector, construction, agriculture, and tourism. Due to the global economic slowdown, GDP lowed to recorded 1.5% in 2009, but climbed more than 4% in 2010, driven by renewed exports. With the January 2005 expiration of a WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, Cambodian textile producers were forced to compete directly with lower-priced countries such as China, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. In addition, oil and mineral deposits were found in Cambodia in 2005 and the government is hoping to generate new revenue from these extractive industries in the near future. The government has reported that bauxite, gold, iron and gems deposits are discovered in the country. As a result, mining sector is becoming the most attractive business for both domestic and foreign investors. In 2009, rubber exports increased about 25% due to rising global demand and continued to increase up to 35.4% in 2010 (Cambodia Daily, 2011).
The tourism industry has also continued to grow rapidly and more than 2 million foreign tourists annually visited Cambodia in 2007 and 2008 but the number declined in 2009 due economic downturn. The global financial crisis is weakening demand for Cambodian exports, and construction is declining because of a shortage of credit. The Cambodian government is working with bilateral and multilateral donors to address the country's many pressing needs. The Government’s policies are directed towards strengthening macro-economic stability, promoting private sector development, sustainable development of the agriculture sector, advancing rural development, ensuring a sound natural resources management, and also encouraging income generation activities, embarking on land reform and increasing access to micro-finance for the poor. The government also promotes international and regional cooperation, especially the integration within ASEAN with partnership with China, Japan, South Korea and India, and the development of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Rapid development and participation of the private sector play an increasingly important role in development of power sector, job creation, thus, liberating people from the shackles of poverty and improving their living standard. Furthermore, competition is the best way to avoid concentration of power, oligarchy, monopoly, corruption and other distortions. The government has formulated a policy for micro-enterprises and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
3. Energy Sector in Cambodia
Cambodia's power supply facilities were heavily damaged by war and its rehabilitation were made under the support from the World Bank, ADB, Japan, USA and European Countries. At present, the electricity supply in Cambodia is fragmented into 24 isolated power systems centred in provincial towns and cities. All are fully reliant on diesel power stations. Per capita consumption is only about 48 kWh / year and less than 15% of households have access to electricity (urban 53.6%, rural 8.6%) and the amount of electricity consumption is as follows: Private sector 0.5%, Service sector 40%, Industrial sector 14%. The supply requirements are projected to increase in average by 12.1% per year, and the peak load is expected to reach up to 1 000 MW in 2020.
Energy sources in Cambodia can be divided into two: non-renewable and renewable energy resources. Non-renewable energy resources include fuels like LPG, gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products) and renewable energy resources are hydropower, biomass, solar, and wind. Cambodia imports fuels (e.g. LPG, gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products) in average 900 000 tons/year in 1998-2000. The country is also expecting to pump its oil by 2012 and the extraction will be carried out by Cheveron. Theoretically, the hydropower potential of Cambodia was estimated about 10 000 MW in 1995 exclude small streams and could therefore play a significant role in the long-term energy development in the context of global warming. Hydropower will contribute to reduce demand for fuel consumption which is a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG). At present only two mini-hydropower plant are in operation: O Chum II mini-hydropower plant with the installed capacity of 1000 kW has been constructed and operated since 1993. Kirirom I hydropower plant with 12 MW, was rehabilitated and operated by CETIC, a Chinese company, under Build Own Transfer (BOT) agreement for 30 years since mid-2002, together with the 120 km 115 kV transmission line to Phnom Penh. Biomass also plays an important role in generating electricity through gasification process for rural areas in the country (Abe et al, 2007). According to the measurement during 1981-88 in Phnom Penh, it showed that an average sunshine is 6-9 hours per day which indicated potential solar energy source (average of 5 kWh/m/day). The application of Photovoltaic system with total installed capacity of around 130 kW is a recent development in Cambodia, as donated by international organizations such as UNICEF, Red Cross, SIDA and FONDEM who installed demonstration systems on health and rehabilitation centres.