Cambodia has a poor electrical grid, but plenty of sun—making it a perfect candidate for more solar power. But the sector remains small, particularly for rural use and farms, where it would be very useful.
That would change, if the government were more supportive and if finance institutions were willing to make loans to help installation, experts said at a recent forum.
The Enrich Forum on Sustainable Development, held last week in Phnom Penh, is an annual conference that puts together numerous experts around a given topic. This year, the forum explored clean energy and how that might be harnessed for sustainable development. The forum looked at ways to raise awareness and share information on clean energy, to explore clean energy investment, and to connect policymakers with project developers and investors.
At the forum, Jim Gramberg, CEO of Solar Partners Asia, said installation remains prohibitively expensive for many, while lending institutions remain reluctant to make loans that could help.
Srey Chanthy, an agricultural economist, said a solar-powered agricultural sector would require action from the government, microfinance institutions, solar companies and farmers. But high investment and high interest for lending remain a problem for farmers, even if solar power would help them in the long run, by, for example, powering pumps to drain fields.
There are other limiting factors, too, said Sao Sopheap, a spokesman for the Ministry of Environment. That includes technical know-how. “The awareness of solar technology is low, and the price is still too high,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cambodia remains a country with a high degree of solar radiation, making it a good place for solar, according to the Asian Development Bank.