The government, now in the final stage of a national renewable energy project, is on a campaign to educate the public about renewable energy technology, officials said at a seminar Wednesday.
“We want to use solar power and renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact from gas or oil generators,” said Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem.
The ministry is installing solar panels on rural bridges, schools, health centers, training centers and pagodas. But industry officials warn that a high tariff on solar power is stifling the government’s renewable energy efforts.
Eighty percent of Cambodia has no energy, officials said. Therefore, education about renewable energy is necessary because it represents the fastest way most rural communities will receive power.
In addition to Wednesday’s seminar, the government has disseminated information on renewable energy through television, magazines, radio, visits to rural villages and videos.
While the government is educating people on the benefits of renewable energy technology, some companies say the bigger problem is that tariffs to import solar panels are much too high.
“If there are tax exemptions for solar panels, then the price will be lowered and more people will have access to energy,” said Mao Sangat, operations manager for Khmer Solar, which provides the government with its solar panels.
Solar panels are subject to a tariff of 49 percent, the ministry said. Several countries in the region, such as Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, have no tariff for the panels.
The ministry plans to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to lower the tariff be to between 5 percent and 7 percent, with the aim of eventually reducing it to zero.
“Right now, our tariff is too high,” said Sat Samy, deputy general director of technical sciences at the ministry. “If the government approves the zero tax, the whole country could receive energy by 2015.”