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Hydro electricity generation regains momentum in the island

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka hydro electricity generation has regained momentum accounting for 64% of the total generation during the last week, up from 61% in the previous week, according to charts.lk statistics.

It said the use of thermal oil-based electricity has fallen lower than 10% in October, which was 27% in September.

The contribution of the Non-Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) has also contributed 10% during October.

As hydropower has the least generation cost, CEB’s profitability improves during years the hydropower contribution to the total electricity generation increases and vice versa.

The positive relationship between hydropower contribution and CEB’s profitability is consistent throughout the period from 2011 to 2019.

In 2013 and 2015, share of hydropower generation peaked at, 58% and 46% respectively. It was only in 2013 and 2015, CEB managed to generate a profit as opposed to the loss it makes in the other years.

Hydropower contributed to almost 100% of electricity generation in the country till mid-1995.

However, the contribution of coal and the more expensive oil-based generation to Sri Lanka’s electricity generation mix has seen a continuous rise over the years fueled by rapid growth in electricity demand over the last two decades.

The limited potential to develop large new Hydropower facilities has significantly escalated the costs to CEB leading to massive losses.

Furthermore, contribution from hydropower plants are highly vulnerable to weather conditions which explains the frequent swings in its contribution in different years. During wet years, hydropower generation increases even beyond 40% of energy mix.

But in dry years, oil-fired thermal power plants are heavily used to bridge the gap in Hydropower generation, and these are the years during which CEB’s profitability plummets heavily.

Hydropower, thermal coal, and thermal oil power plants are the key power generation sources of Sri Lanka accounting for 92% of the power generated on average in the last 5 years.

Other non-conventional renewable energy sources such as wind power contributes only a small proportion, 8% on average over the last 5 years.

The cost of generating power varies considerably based on the power source. The unit cost of generating power in 2020 from the key power plants that generate over 50 Gigawatt Hours (Gwh) annually.

The data shows that the unit cost of generating power from the hydropower plants are the lowest compared to other sources of power generation in Sri Lanka.

Amongst the powerplants considered in the Infographic, the unit cost of generating power from the hydropower plants averaged LKR 5.0 per Kwh during the year compared to LKR 10.2 per Kwh of coal power plant,

LKR 16.8 Kwh of Non-conventional Renewable Energy power plants and a substantially high average of LKR 32.9 Kwh of the Thermal Oil power plants.

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