Fossil fuels overtake RE


Electricity generated by the cheap and non pollutive renewable energy (RE) played second fiddle to the imported and pollutive fossil fuel (FF) after a lapse of two days on Monday  (27) due to the waning of the South-West Monsoons, Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB’s) yesterday’s (28) showed. Consequently, of the 41.68 gwH of electricity generated on Monday, FF was responsible for 57.44 per cent (23.94 gWh) of it and RE only 42.56 per cent (17.74 (gWh). However, over the weekend, more than 50 per cent of electricity distributed by the grid to the consumer were generated by RE.

In the 178 calendar days that have transpired in the year up to Monday, RE was responsible for providing 50 per cent or over of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs in only on 38 (21.35 per cent) of those days and FF the balance 140 (78.65 per cent) of those days.

Monday’s RE’s breakdown comprised CEB Hydro (12.07gWh); CEB Wind (1.67gWh); private sector (PS) solar (0.32 gWh), biomass (0.26 gWh each); PS minihydro (1.49 gWh) and PS wind (1.93gWh), respectively.

Meanwhile, Monday’s FF breakdown comprised CEB Coal (11.66 gWh), CEB Diesel (6.10 gWh) and PS diesel (6.18gWh). CEB’s hydro breakdown of Saturday’s comprised Mahaweli (6.08 gWh), Laxapana (5.66 gWh) and Samanalawewa (ie both Samanalawewa and Kukule Ganga hydroelectric power project (HEPP) together)-2.56 gWh respectively. Mahaweli comprises Victoria, Randenigala, Rantanbe, Kotmale and Upper Kotmale HEEP projects, respectively. Victoria, Randenigala, Rantanbe and Kotmale HEPPs were built during the J.R. Jaywardene era after obtaining grant and/or concessional aid from the West.

Upper Kotmale, conceptualised during the Jayewardene era was built during the Mahinda Rajapaksa era after obtaining concessional Japanese aid. Samanalawewa conceptualised during the Jayewardene era, was built during the Ranasinghe Premadasa era after obtaining concessional aid from Japan and Kukule Ganga conceptualised during the Premadasa era, was built during the Chandrika Bandaranaike era after obtaining concessional aid from Japan. Laxapana, built during the D. S. Senanayake with Sri Lanka’s own money was subsequently extended after obtaining concessional World Bank aid. 

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s 2021 Annual Report, the cheapest source of electricity generation to the CEB last year was ‘CEB hydro’, costing a mere Rs 1.67 a unit or one kilo Watt hour (kWh) of electricity, followed by coal (Rs 10.87), non conventional RE such as mini-hydro, wind-both CEB and the private sector (PS), biomass and solar (Rs 18.99), ‘CEB diesel’ (Rs 29.01) and ‘PS Diesel’ (Rs 30.35), respectively.

By Paneetha Ameresekere