Cambodia Investment Review

Cambodia enters energy saving mode, assures no side-effects on Kingdom’s economic growth

Cambodia enters energy saving mode, assures no side-effects on Kingdom’s economic growth

Vijian Paramasivam

Cambodia’s goal to slash total final energy consumption by 19 percent in 2030 without compromising its economic growth and end-user comfort — a significant move towards becoming an energy-efficient society — is gaining momentum with the support of private sector participation.

The National Energy Efficiency Policy 2022-2030 is set to drive the Kingdom’s energy-saving agenda that will bring a plethora of benefits — from improving energy security, providing affordable energy, reduction in poverty, and maintaining sustainable energy production to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Promoting energy efficiency in Cambodia

“Energy efficiency is important not only in Cambodia but also in ASEAN where the 10 countries are putting high priority in promoting energy efficiency that will help to improve our economies and energy security,” Ministry of Mines and Energy under-secretary Victor Jona said in his opening remarks at the “Breakfast Talk on Achieving Energy Efficiency: Policies and Best Practices”. 

Read more: $1.4B of private investment a year needed to achieve Cambodia’s 2050 ‘carbon neutral’ plan

Cambodia has taken a pragmatic approach in adopting an energy efficiency program at a critical time, when developed and developing economies, continue to grapple with rising energy prices in the global market and the painful impact of climate change. 

Ministry of Mines and Energy under-secretary Victor Jona making his opening remarks at the event.

Energy reduction is sensitive as it could trigger serious economic repercussions — slow down economic growth, affect employment levels and even dent financial development in economies. However, the newly-minted comprehensive National Energy Efficiency Policy announced in March this year will adopt the plan without jeopardizing the Kingdom’s GDP growth and even go on to create new job opportunities. 

“Let me stress again that the concept of energy efficiency does not only mean saving energy by reducing economic activity and the overall productivity, comfort, and well-being of the end-users. 

“It also aims to provide the same – or an even better – energy service by using fewer energy inputs. Energy efficiency could play an important role in achieving the sector’s overarching objective of providing energy in a reliable, secure, stable, and affordable manner while contributing to the country’s sustainable development at the same time,” said Jona.

Ongoing implementation challenges

During the two-hour event organized by EuroCham Cambodia, a galaxy of industry experts shared their views on the importance of reducing energy consumption, while also highlighting challenges in implementing the plan. 

Read more: Cambodia’s solar sector has ‘huge potential’ for expansion as total energy demand forecast to quintuple by 2040

“To deliver energy efficiency we need to build trust and (develop) skills training in the early stage of the nascent sector. We need to create more awareness in energy management,” said Cécile Dahome, vice-chairwoman of the Green Biz Committee and executive director at Sevea Consulting.

Sevea Consulting project manager Dr Sothearath Seang briefing on the success of the Cambodian Energy Efficiency Competition.

Cambodia’s energy landscape is changing dramatically. Rapid urbanization triggered by rural-urban migration, population growth, mushrooming of high-rise buildings and the rising demand for modern home appliances is all pushing the energy demand. 

As of 2022, per capita energy consumption stood at 896.66 kWh per year, electricity consumption per household was 4,712 kWh and the total electricity consumption was 15.55 billion kWh. Under the national policy with the ‘Business-As-Usual’ scenario, the government plans to reduce total final energy consumption from 89,837 GWh to 72,470 GWh.

The policy had earmarked major energy-consuming sectors to reduce consumption:

             • 20 percent in the industrial sector

             • 34 percent in the residential sector  

             • 25 percent in commercial buildings, including public buildings 

             • Five percent in the transport sector

Balancing economic growth and energy reduction

It could be a herculean task for Cambodia to balance economic growth and energy reduction as it is beginning to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic that clipped growth potentials for over two years in almost all key economic segments such as garment manufacturing, tourism, and construction sector. 

“We also recognize key issues or barriers in implementing energy efficiencies (plan) such as the lack of market mechanism, technical regulations support, central financing, and lack of awareness (among energy users). Therefore, we must do our utmost to strengthen government and private sector cooperation to explore opportunities to work together in this area,” said Jona. 

EuroCham Cambodia executive director Martin Brisson making his closing remarks at the end of the session.

The private sector that has been instrumental in driving the economy — forecast to grow at about 5.6 percent this year— has stepped up its commitment to promoting the energy efficiency program. For instance, the Cambodian Energy Efficiency (CEE) Competition organized by CEE Comp where buildings from all public and private sectors including offices, retail and NGOs will compete for one year to reduce energy consumption. 

Read more: Royal Group and Keppel Energy pursue joint development of renewable energy and cross-border transmission from Cambodia to Singapore

AMK Microfinance Institution PLC participated in the last competition and experienced how simple steps in energy savings brought positive results to the company. “We had a simple goal to encourage all our staff to treat their energy usage in the office with the same spirit of savings that they may do at home. Because while we individually may only notice the cost when we consume at home, we all collectively face the impact of climate change,” he said.

Participants attending EuroCham Cambodia’s “Breakfast Talk on Achieving Energy Efficiency: Policies and Best Practices” on April 4th at Raffles Hotel Phnom Penh

“We were surprised that by joining the CEE Competition we actually exceeded this goal, as we received positive feedback from staff, who had learned new and better measures for managing their energy efficiency and brought these improvements home and created even more savings in their home electricity bill,” said AMK chief financial officer Lucas Moro.  

The second edition of the competition will be held from June this year until June 2024.  

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