In 2021, Cambodia's total electricity consumption stood at roughly 8.7 terawatt-hours (TWh), split nearly equally between low-carbon and fossil energy. The largest contributor to the low-carbon energy generation was hydropower at 4 TWh followed closely by nuclear and other sources at 0.6 TWh. The country's fossil energy generation was mainly from coal, contributing close to 3.7 TWh to the overall mix. When contrasted with the global average electricity consumption of 410 watts per person, Cambodia's electricity generation and consumption levels are relatively low. This low level of electricity generation can potentially impede economic growth and industrial development, further limiting access to basic services and amenities that demand electricity, such as healthcare and education.
To enhance its low-carbon electricity generation, Cambodia could glean insights from other countries that have effectively harnessed low-carbon energy sources like nuclear, wind, and solar. Given Cambodia's tropical climate and geophysical characteristics, the country might consider following in the footsteps of similar regions such as India and Vietnam. In particular, India has generated approximately 119 TWh of electricity from solar energy, and Vietnam clocked in at 26 TWh, demonstrating the viability of leveraging solar energy in tropical climates. Additionally, wind energy offers another possible avenue for Cambodia. Brazil and India have been successful in harnessing the potential of wind, generating 94 TWh and 91 TWh respectively. Furthermore, though the initial investments might be substantial, Cambodia might also consider nuclear energy. Numerous nations including the US and France have demonstrated that it can be a potent generator of clean energy.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Cambodia appears to have primarily involved hydropower and biofuels. The move towards low-carbon electricity generation began in earnest in 2000, with a modest 0.1 TWh generated from hydropower. The progression was slow but steadily rising over the years, and peaked in 2018 when hydropower generation hit 2 TWh. However, in the following years, there was a slight dip in hydropower electricity generation. Biofuels were introduced into the mix in 2014 and have contributed varying amounts to the overall low-carbon electricity generation, albeit on a much smaller scale compared to hydropower. As of recent years, solar power has made its entrance into the Cambodian energy scene. Starting from 0.1 TWh in 2019, solar energy generation slightly grew to 0.2 TWh in 2020 and has maintained this into 2021 as evidenced by the data. As Cambodia continues to evolve its energy strategy, the emphasis on harnessing more wind, solar, and nuclear power could lead to a more diversified and balanced energy mix.