Aoral Eco-City to host Cambodia’s largest solar farm

Cambodia Construction News
An artist’s depiction of the Aoral Eco-City in Kampong Speu province. Supplied

Aoral Eco-City to host Cambodia’s largest solar farm

The ambitious Aoral Eco-City project took yet another step forward yesterday as HLH Agriculture (Cambodia) Co Ltd announced it had agreed to a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) for the development of what is claimed to be Cambodia’s largest solar farm.

Aoral Eco-City is a mixed-use agriculture-based development in Aoral district, Kampong Speu province. HLH Agriculture, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Hong Lai Huat Group (HLHG), received in-principle approval for the project in March. Previously, HLHG said in a news release that the development will eventually attract some $10 billion in investments to the area.

The MoU, slated to be finalised within the next three months, will create a 20 year special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development and operation of a 200-megawatt solar farm. The SPV will retain the rights to renew the arrangement for a further 20 years after it expires, according to the companies.

“The proposed solar farm project is a key element of the eco-city and will provide clean power to the local population, reducing carbon emissions to the environment while enhancing energy security for investors in Aoral Eco-City,” said Ong Jia Jing, HLHG executive director.

With an estimated investment value of $200 million under the Aoral Eco-City Solar Energy Zone, the terms of the MoU will see the solar farm supply power to businesses and the Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) grid under a purchase-power agreement (PPA).

CMEC is a subsidiary of China National Machinery Industry Corp. Revenue generated under the PPA will be shared between HLHG and CMEC with the details set to be defined and released in a binding agreement within the next three months.

CMEC Chief Representative Wang Haitao said CMEC was pleased to partner with HLHG to embark on the project given its track record in construction and real estate development, noting that the firm’s engineering expertise will ensure the success of the proposed solar farm.

“In line with the global transition to renewable energy, we are proud as one of the pioneers in providing clean energy in Cambodia,” he said.

A document obtained by Khmer Times detailing the project showed the firm intends to plan the power station on 2,000 hectares of concessionary land in the area.

While the power station may in fact be the largest in Cambodia when complete, it is being built in phases with the first phase being smaller and those to follow to be developed in accordance with the needs of the eco-city.

The goal is to have the entire eco-city powered by solar energy and have factories install solar rooftops facilities will be able to integrate solar rooftops and simultaneously draw clean energy from the city’s grid.

A zone concept for Aoral Eco-City, made available on March 29, showed the city will have 500 hectares of residential and public housing, including markets, clinics, schools and police centres.

A further 200 hectares will be designated for a commercial zone that will include an exhibition area, offices and hotels. A total of 100 hectares has been designated for construction and mining, while 300 hectares in the “West Zone” are to be used for a fish and animal farm. The eco-city will also allocate 467 hectares for livestock. It intends to raise chickens, ducks, bovine beasts, goats and other animals. A large 600-hectare “ornamental fish farm” in the North Zone will see the cultivation of fish, frogs and lobsters.

A total of 250 hectares has been allocated for its construction material zone (CMZ), which will host factories, construction material and warehouses.

The HLHG-CMEC MoU marks the second agreement signed to develop the eco-city. Singapore-based Joe Green Pte signed a contract on April 12 to develop a lightweight concrete panel manufacturing plant in the Aoral Eco-City CMZ.

HLHG began investing in the Kingdom in 2008 and has since developed some 10,000 hectares of farmland dubbed “Camfarm” in Aoral Eco-City for the cultivation of cassava and a starch production property.

Shares of HLHG, which trade under the ticker CTO on the Singapore Exchange, closed 5.56 percent higher on the news, ending Monday’s trading session at approximately $0.072 per share.

Shares of CMEC, trading under the ticker 1829 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ended the session even, closing at $0.45.