EuroCham Pushes for Solar at Garment CEO Dinner

EuroCham and GMAC hosted a successful private dinner with garment industry CEOs and government representatives at Sofitel Phnom Penh PhokeethraTuesday evening to continue a dialogue on renewable energy and rooftop solar panels.

The topic has come to the forefront of the industry as some factory owners feel installing rooftop solar panels is not sufficiently supported by the government at the moment.

One of the core issues surrounds a capacity charge that is levied on those who install rooftop solar panels on their factories. Under current regulations, these companies still have to pay peak charges for electricity even when they are operating in off-peak hours.

At the event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Mines and Energy H.E. Sok Khavan said he understood the argument concerning costs incurred and value created from connecting rooftop solar energy to the grid. He reiterated that the ministry is wholly invested and committed to renewable energy, as reflected in the current domestic energy mix, which is over 52% renewables.

Khavan added that market forces are naturally creating a trend towards solar energy and that he would support further discussions to find common ground and a beneficial outcome for all consumers.

"We see remarkable growth in renewable energy and solar and this has all come about not because we are incentivizing it but because the cost of solar has come down so dramatically that it makes economic sense now for the government to facilitate investment,” he said.

"I think the question should be how do we become as green as possible while ensuring that we have enough power supply at an affordable price."

EuroCham's sustainability and garment expert Massimiliano Tropeano gave an in-depth presentation outlining the need to push for solar and pointed to concerning trends that will see the Kingdom's energy mix trend towards more non-renewable sources in the short to medium-term future.

Deputy Director of Corporate Planning and Projects at Electricite du Cambodge Mr. Rann Seihakkiry also attended the dinner and said that although this may introduce more non-renewable energy into the mix in the short-term, prior agreements concerning non-renewable energy must be honored.

EuroCham Chairman Tassilo Brinzer said a full embrace of renewable energy would open up new opportunities in the Kingdom, such as the creation of high-skill jobs and the potential to give life to a completely new sustainable energy industry.

He said: "For EuroCham and our members, the greening of Cambodia's economy in any sector is hugely important as it makes businesses more competitive, more modern, and more resilient. Be it high-quality travel and eco-tourism; manufacturing in modern, sustainable high-tech production facilities; construction with energy-efficient technologies and designs that modernize the face of our cities; transportation using sustainable technologies; or services that repurpose waste. All of these offer enormous, progressive growth opportunities as the Kingdom competes with fast-modernizing neighbors.”

“The garment industry, in particular, remains hugely important and in this sense has a great opportunity to expand better. We are at GMAC’s side as it prepares the sector for the future and to move up in global supply chains. Asian, European, American, and Japanese markets with modern middle classes continue to demand more sustainable products. For Cambodia, this is an opportunity for better business, better jobs, new investment, and growth."

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