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Pursuit of coal power puts off international brands

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Chip Mong Insee Cement Corp and other companies that source from Cambodia have warned that the country’s pursuit of new coal-power projects, instead of embracing renewable sources like solar and wind, clashes with their corporate targets to reduce carbon emissions. Heng Chivoan

Pursuit of coal power puts off international brands

A coalition of international companies that source from Cambodia have expressed concern over the Kingdom’s recent approvals of coal-fired power stations, which they say undermine its investment attractiveness.

In a letter addressed to the government and set to be delivered to authorities later this month, the companies warned that Cambodia’s pursuit of new coal-power projects, instead of embracing renewable sources like solar and wind, clashes with their corporate targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Represented in the letter were US specialised bicycle manufacturers, partially Thai-owned Chip Mong Insee Cement Corp and fashion giants such as H&M, Adidas, Puma and Gap.

The companies said: “Electricite du Cambodge’s [EdC’s] decisions made today will lock Cambodia into a future that appears to be the opposite of global and regional trends and less attractive to our industry.

“Countries that today prioritise [renewable energy] and a green future will avoid wasting money on outdated technologies that will soon be obsolete and expensive.”

Victor Jona, director-general of the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s General Department of Energy, told The Post on Wednesday that the government needs to diversify energy production to include other sources and ensure stable electricity supply in Cambodia.

He said that without exception, the government assumes the ultimate responsibility in reviewing the socio-environmental impact of every development project in the power sector.

“All in all, we need to expand our energy portfolio to include a plethora of sources, inter alia, hydropower, coal and solar to ensure the supply to consumers, be they citizens, industries, cottage industries or service providers,” Jona said.

He said the government is currently developing 450MW in solar energy capacity, of which 180MW have been connected to the national grid, with the remainder is set to be online next year.

In an email to Nikkei Asian Review, H&M said it was re-evaluating its future production strategy in the Kingdom, citing environmental and economic issues.

The company reportedly wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its garment production by 59 per cent of 2017 levels before 2030.

It told Nikkei Asian Review: “Countries who see coal as a viable energy source for the future will lose out.

“How [countries] respond in terms of environmental and social protections and promotion will impact sourcing attractiveness for brands moving forward.

“The global sourcing landscape of pre-Covid-19 will undoubtedly not be the same in the future.”

Jona said the Kingdom generates most of its energy from hydropower dams and coal-fired plants, accounting for around 34-40 per cent and 32 per cent of power production, respectively.

The remainder, he said, comes from solar power and imports from neighbouring countries.

The government is currently operating a 270MW coal-fired power plant in Preah Sihanouk province and is developing another one there with a 700MW capacity.

It is additionally developing a 700MW plant in Koh Kong province and is importing 2,400MW from Laos.

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