Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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58 renewable power projects in back burner amidst power crisis    

Although Sri Lanka energy sector authorities are boosting on a move towards renewable energy, 58 approved renewable projects are still on the back burner due to the failure to implement it, the latest audit report revealed. 

No action has been taken so far to implement the  government’s ambitious programme of generating 70 per cent of the country’s energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2030.

In fact, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) issued a statement saying there was no need for power interruptions until Mrach this year as there were sufficient stocks of fuel to generate electricity.

Given the struggle the country is currently facing with regard to power generation, stakeholders of the renewable energy sector came forward to propose what they believe is the solution to the country’s current energy crisis.

But all these attempts of the government have become futile owing to the lethargic attitude of the CFB and other relevant authorities, despite talks and assurances of ruling party politicians.     

Power outages have become a common occurrence in Sri Lanka despite multiple assurances from the Government that sufficient fuel has been purchased for the generation of electricity. 

According to the Auditor General’s Department report, it was unfortunate that the Ceylon Electricity Board has taken no action to expedite the implementation of these 58 renewable energy projects adding 129. 75 Megawatts of power to the national grid.  

 Project developers will have to renew their licences from the Central Environmental Authority, Wild Life Conservation Department and Forest Conservation Department   as the time frame given to them to launch renewable energy projects has already expired.

Action had been taken to obtain proposals for the implementation of 60 solar power plants with the capacity of one MW and 65 bids had been received for 38 power plants. 

Among them, letters had been issued calling for consent from 36 qualified bidders with a capacity ranging between Rs.12.73 KW and Rs.18.37 KW per hour, for 35 power plants. 

Even though dates had been extended that power plants should be commenced on or before 31 December 2020, only the works of 20 power plants had been commenced even by 31 December 2020, the Auditor General’s report divulged.

According to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s statement in parliament last month, in the last two years,  the Government has been able to add significant renewable energy capacity to the local power grid using wind and solar power.

“The capacity of the Thambapanni Wind Power Plant, which was commissioned last year and is now successfully operating at 100 MW, will be increased by another 50 MW this year,” he said.

In addition, under the ‘GamataBalagarayak’ programme, work has commenced on the construction of 7,000 small solar power plants with a capacity of 100 kilowatts through local investors, of which 560 megawatts will be added to the power grid within the next two years.

“Also, the installation of rooftop solar panels on the roofs of government offices has commenced with a loan facility of Rs 20 billion signed with India last year,” he added .The construction of the 120 MW Uma Oya and 35 MW Broadlands Hydro Power Plant was nearing completion. The Moragolla Hydro Power Plant was expected to be completed by 2023.

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