Renewable energy leads fossil fuels for two days


Aided by record daily power cuts, electricity generated by the cheap and non-pollutive renewable energy (RE) took the lead over the  imported and pollutive fossil fuels (FFs)  for two consecutive days to Sunday (24 July), the first time after nine days , Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB’s) data for yesterday (25 July) showed.

Of the total electricity supplied by the CEB to consumers in Sri Lanka on Sunday which was  33.29 gigaWatt hours (gWh), RE’s share was 18.06 gWh (54.25 per cent) and FFs share was 15.23 gWh (45.75 per cent)  respectively.

 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 kiloWatt hour (kWh) of electricity followed by Coal (Rs 10.87); non-conventional RE such as Mini-Hydro, Wind-both CEB and PS, Biomass and Solar (Rs 18.99), ‘CEB Diesel’ (Rs 29.01) and ‘PS Diesel’ (Rs 30.35), respectively.

‘CEB Hydro’ is part of RE, while ‘Coal’, ‘CEB Diesel’ and ‘PS Diesel’ together form Sri Lanka’s current FFs sector.

Sunday’s FFs breakdown comprised CEB Coal (12.67 gWh), CEB Diesel (2.56 gWh) and private sector (PS) Diesel (0.00 gWh) respectively. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s sole coal electricity generator, the 900 mW Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, built during the Mahinda Rajapaksa era sans tender call and incurring USUSD  1.35 billion of taxpayers’ money to build it, is however, generally, only partially operable for several days, forcing the Government of Sri Lanka/CEB to be over reliant on the expensive diesel to meet a large size of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs on most days.

 In related developments,  Sunday’s  RE breakdown comprised CEB Hydro 15.02 gWh, equivalent to 83.17 per cent of total RE generated on that day, followed by PS Mini-Hydro (1.34 gWh), PS Wind (0.78 gWh),   CEB Wind (0.66 gWh), PS Solar (0.14 gWh) and  PS Biomass (0.12 gWh) respectively.

CEB’s hydro breakdown of Sunday comprised Mahaweli (6.98 gWh), Laxapana (6.76 gWh) and Samanalawewa (ie both Samanalawewa and Kukule Ganga Hydroelectric Power Projects (HEPPs) together): 1.27 gWh respectively.

But in the 205 days that have transpired in the year  to  Sunday, RE was responsible for providing 50 per cent or over of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs in only 49 (23.90 per cent) days and FFs in the balance 156 (76.10 per cent)  days..

Meanwhile, ‘Mahaweli  Hydro’ comprises Victoria, Randenigala, Rantanbe, Kotmale and Upper Kotmale HEEP projects, respectively. Victoria, Randenigala, Rantambe and Kotmale HEPPs were built during the J.R. Jayewardene era after obtaining grant and concessional aid from the West.

Upper Kotmale, conceptualized  was built after obtaining concessional Japanese aid. Samanalawewa  was built with concessional aid from Japan and Kukule Ganga was built with concessional aid from Japan. Laxapana, was built with Sri Lanka’s money and subsequently extended after obtaining concessional World Bank aid.

By Paneetha  Ameresekere