Koh Slar…, a small rural village in Kampot Province in southern Cambodia …, celebrated on Thursday the opening of a solar power plant… built by a Korean aid agency.
The villagers of Koh Slar…, who are mostly disabled soldiers from years of civil wars in the country…, had little or no access to electricity.
But they do now, thanks to the Korea International Cooperation Agency, or KOICA.
And better yet, the electricity is carbon-free.
[Interview : Suy Sem, Cambodia Minister of Energy] "The Prime Minister of Cambodia specifically requested the Korean government's help in building a power plant in Koh Slar, to make things better for the disabled veterans of the village. We thank the Korean government for the help."
KOICA's flagship project, called the East Asia Climate Partnership, funded the 2.2 million dollar construction project from start to finish.
[Interview : Kim Han-su, Korean Ambassador to Cambodia] "We're giving Cambodia electricity that does not come from burning fossil fuels. With this, the villagers'cultural life will be enriched."
Until now, the only power some villagers had came from making fires with tree saplings. But now that practice is going to disappear in Koh Slar for good.
[Interview : Col. Tihg Meng Long, Village Manager] "I thank the Korean government and KOICA very much for their charitable gift, like giving food to the hungry."
The newly built solar power plant is a stand-alone facility.
Because Koh Slar did not have any electricity before, combining solar energy with an existing electrical grid was not an option.
[Reporter : Kim Yeon-ji, Reporter] What it means is that Koh Slar residents can take charged batteries back to their homes to power their TVs and lanterns, and then come back to the power plant to recharge them.
After five hours of charging, a battery can be used for about half a week.
This lady from the village is excited to have a solar power facility nearby… for recharging purposes.
Previously, she had to use batteries charged with diesel-generated electricity that a local business owner delivered…, paying more money for less.
[Interview : Sok Kunthy, Villager] "My heart is overjoyed that we can have electricity that's cheaper. I can now spend more electricity to light up my house, use the electric fan, and watch TV."
The green electricity from the solar power plant is expected to improve the overall quality of life for all residents of Koh Slar…, and serve as an opportunity for Cambodia to leap forward with sustainable growth.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News, Koh Slar.