Cambodia plans to roll out a new national policy on energy efficiency by the end of 2022 in a bid to slow the growth rate of national energy demand from 2014-2035 by at least 20 per cent by the end of the period.

Initiated in 2021 with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the national policy introduces similar sector-specific targets, such as 25 per cent for industry as well as the building sub-sector, and 15 per cent for the transportation sector.

Although more concrete figures for the new document are not publicly available, the 2013 edition of the policy had set a similar goal, indicating an assumed total energy demand of 5.95 millions of tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2035, meaning that the target would be to bring that figure down to 4.76 Mtoe. However Enerdata statistics suggest that energy demand topped 8 Mtoe in 2020.

Ministry of Mines and Energy director-general for energy Heng Kunleang told The Post that his ministry had finished a draft of the national policy and forwarded it to the Economic and Financial Policy Committee for review before it is submitted to the government for approval.

Previous studies, conducted under Kunleang’s watch, on facilities and sites operated by businesses involved in industry, commerce, transportation and building construction have found material inefficiencies in energy usage, he said, adding that “we are focusing on installing energy-efficient equipment”.

He said his ministry will keep calling on the people, especially those in these and related fields, to use devices and equipment from neighbouring countries that are certified to be energy efficient and lower energy intensity.

Cambodia Rice Federation Lun Yeng propounded that the current quantity of electricity allocated to the rice sector is not enough, especially for the paddy driers installed in some mills, leading to energy shortages he said jeopardise the quality of the grain as well as the equipment.

He said that “most” of the equipment and systems used in the mills are of high quality, and imported from Switzerland.

Moreover, although the private sector has looked to the sun to power production, Yeng stressed that operating solar power systems is too expensive. Regardless, “we expect that energy consumption will be more efficient”, he enthused.

The state-run utility Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) levies a monthly “capacity charge” based on the demand contracted with customers that connect at higher voltage levels, although this only applies to solar systems at present, according to Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).

Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general for Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, underscored that relatively high electricity tariffs, compared to regional peers, undermine the competitiveness of industry, especially the garment sector.

He commented, however, that the availability of energy is “one of the most important determinants of economic development”, and at present, “sufficient”.