Garment factories urged to switch to solar power

The European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Cambodia on Tuesday called for faster adoption of renewable energy and rooftop solar panels in the country’s garment sector to make it more competitive.

EuroCham representatives expressed their views to industry leaders, development partners and government officials at an invitation-only meeting co-hosted by the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) . Currently, there are over 6,000 garment exporters in Cambodia directly employing over 700,000 workers.

“Rooftop solar can attract new, modern suppliers and increase production. It’s about being competitive, and my job is to make Cambodia more competitive as a production hub for different products,” said a representative from the chamber’s garment and manufacturing committee.

“At some point, if we can’t compete with other manufacturing centers, we’ll have to close the factories,” the representative said.

Coal, gas and oil prices continue to rise due to logistical obstacles and geopolitical pressures. Currently, solar power is estimated at 2.67 cents per kWh while coal power costs 7.7 cents per kWh, according to a press release.

Energy demand in Cambodia is expected to triple by 2040 and several factors favor a switch to solar energy. China, South Korea and Japan have refused to finance future coal projects, while at the same time international investors are turning to renewable energy.

Sok Khavan, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the ministry is fully committed to renewable energy as evidenced by the current national energy mix, where energy from renewables constitutes 52 percent. .

The share of solar power has increased from about 10 MW in 2019 to 400 MW this year, which represents a growth of 4,000% over the past three years, Khavan said, adding that a balance must be struck. between sustainable and affordable energy.

“We are seeing the remarkable growth in solar power only because of a decline in its cost,” Khavan said.

On the grid connection capacity charge for rooftop solar, the official said that the relevant regulations have already been established, so we will have to implement them.

Tassilo Brinzer, president of EuroCham with more than 300 member companies and five chapters comprising 11 European countries, said the adoption of green technologies in sectors such as manufacturing and construction is important because it makes companies more competitive, more modern and more resilient.

“The garment industry, in particular, remains extremely important. Modern middle-class customers in Asian, European, American and Japanese markets continue to demand more durable products. For Cambodia, this is an opportunity for better business, better jobs, new investment and growth,” Tassilo said.

Michael O. Stutler