The project Energy Saving Siem Reap aims to promote and demonstrate energy conservation and energy efficiency in Siem Reap Province, which is located in central Cambodia and bordering Tonle Sap Lake. Siem Reap provincial capital is Siem Reap City, which is the gateway to the ancient city of Angkor, a World Heritage Site at the heart of Khmer civilization. Since the 1990s, tourism in Angkor has developed rapidly, from a few thousand visitors a year to more than a million. Siem Reap’s population, attracted by economic opportunities, has increased by 300,000 people to reach 0.9 million inhabitants.

The temples of Angkor represent a significant source of revenues and foreign currencies for Cambodia, but mass tourism has resulted in the rapid growth of Siem Reap City, put additional pressure on cultural and environmental assets, and increased imbalances in development. Siem Reap’s consumption of water and energy has grown rapidly, and has been associated with increased air and water pollution. From 2002 to 2007, the installed capacity of the state electric utility, Electricité du Cambodge (EDC) increased fivefold from 20 MW to 100 MW. Yet, increasing state electricity sales are unable to cope with the latent demand, and have led the residential and commercial sectors to install privately operated on-site diesel generators. Currently the annual electricity consumption in the city is roughly evenly divided between residential, commercial and government users.

Against this background of energy scarcity, little has been effectively done in practice to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy technologies in Siem Reap. To a large extent, the general population remains unaware of basic measures to conserve electricity, including switching to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), and of the links between electricity consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change. Government buildings, schools and hospitals have similarly not adopted energy conservation and energy efficiency measures. The situation in the commercial sector is more uneven as the internationally operated hotels and commercial centre may generally have adopted better energy efficiency measures than local entrepreneurs. The use of solar water heaters (SWH) is limited to a handful of entrepreneurial operators. Most guesthouses still rely on water heaters in individual bathrooms. Thus, the direct beneficiaries of project activities consist of the general public, public sector institutions (schools, hospitals, government offices), and the private sector (commercial centre, hotels/guesthouses, restaurants). Households will benefit from the increased awareness of simple and immediately implementable energy conservation measures, as well as the distribution of compact fluorescent lamps against a financial contribution.

The project aims to contribute to addressing the immediate problems of energy scarcity in Siem Reap through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation in the context of development and climate change. The project is a direct response to existing local needs in Siem Reap for energy efficiency and electricity savings, and aims to contribute to national development objectives as set out by the Royal Government of Cambodia that is to reduce poverty towards the achievement of Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs).

Thus the project directly responds to Cambodia’s national priorities in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and would contribute to national objectives to reduce poverty, achieve energy security and mitigate GHG emissions. These objectives fall under the specific mandates of the Ministry of Environment and of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the two government institutions partners to the project.

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