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‘Millions’ to be made off energy efficiency

Against the backdrop of high electricity costs and energy imports, Cambodian businesses could save millions of dollars annually by implementing energy-efficient business practices, insiders said yesterday.

“It is clear that energy efficiency has multiple benefits, not only to the tourism sector but also other economic sectors in Cambodia in general,” Thong Khon, minister of tourism and chairman of the National Committee for Clean City Assessment, said during an Asian Development Bank (ADB) workshop on power saving at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Khon said that reducing energy imports will help improve the competitiveness of Cambodia “by reducing overall costs and increasing operational efficiencies”.

Cambodia imports oil from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and in the first 10 months of this year spent $1.2 billion on oil imports, data from the Ministry of Commerce show.

Vietnam, Thailand and Laos supply Cambodia with much of its electricity demand. The country is likely to be a net electricity importer for several years to come, the Japan International Cooperation Agency forecast in 2012.

“The cost of energy in Cambodia is very high. One of the highest in the world still,” Eric Sidgwick, ADB country director for Cambodia, said during the workshop. “The access to energy is also very low. Only about 35 per cent of the country is electrified.”

High costs of fuel imports are “a strong macroeconomic reason to invest in energy efficiency, because you’re basically saving foreign exchange which is really hard – it’s a big burden for the country, so every unit of energy you save is one unit of energy you don’t need to buy,” Peter du Pont, vice president at Government & Clean Energy Consulting at Nexant Asia Limited, a consultant to the ADB, said.

A National Policy, Strategy and Action Plan on Energy Efficiency in Cambodia draft released in May this year and developed by the government and the EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility calls for a 20 per cent reduction in energy consumption by 2035. This would result in annual energy savings of nearly $320 million, according to the draft report.

Yesterday’s workshop discussed how Cambodian businesses can benefit from power service companies that conduct energy audits and implement energy-efficiency measures. “The way it happens with energy service companies is: they come in [a factory for example] and say we’ll invest up front and we will guarantee that you will save a certain amount and you can keep half of those savings and we’ll take the other half,” Du Pont said.

“So it’s a win-win, so the energy services business model is a way of getting over this problem of people being too busy, having too many things to do [to implement efficiency measures].”



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