Sri Lanka signed a joint venture shareholders agreement with India to launch the Solar Energy project in Sampur, Trincomalee.
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation in India (NTPC) were the signatories for the agreement, as enior official of the CEB confirmed.
Indian energy conglomerate NTPC Ltd in a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) has already agreed to establish the new solar park in Sampur Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, he disclosed.
It will be built on land that was already leased to the company a few years prior for a coal power plant, which was rejected by the previous Government.
NTPC Ltd. is India’s largest power generation utility, with an overall power generation of 60,000 MW in India.
The new solar power park being planned is to be implemented under the guidance of the International Solar Alliance.
India is to set up a solar power park in Sri Lanka as part of a concerted strategy to project its presence in the Indian Ocean region, even as China aims to co-opt countries into its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.
By leveraging the country’ solar expertise, India’s largest power generation utility NTPC Ltd plans to set up this project in the island nation under the aegis of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
This comes in the backdrop of an increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean region, which India considers its sphere of influence.
“We are looking at setting up a solar park in Sri Lanka,” said a senior Indian government official requesting anonymity.
State-run Ceylon Electricity Board has an installed power generation capacity of around 35.8 gigawatts (GW). India has been working on improving the energy infrastructure in Sri Lanka.
Petronet LNG Ltd had earlier announced its plans of setting up a liquefied natural gas terminal in Sri Lanka.
India is also exploring the option of an overhead electricity link with Sri Lanka as part of efforts to create a new-energy ecosystem for the neighbourhood.
China is already one of the biggest investors in various infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.
The proposed solar park follows after state-run NTPC Ltd’s plan to set up a coal-fuelled power project in Trincomalee didn’t make much headway and was eventually scrapped after Colombo asked India to change—for the second time—the location of the stalled $500 million project.