Cheap and clean renewable energy (RE) provided over 50 per cent of Sri Lanka’s (SL’s) daily electricity needs in 36 (52.17 per cent) out of the 69 days to Tuesday (16), Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB’s) yesterday’s (17) data showed.
In 32 (46.38 per cent) of the remaining 33 days to Tuesday, over 50 per cent of the island’s daily electricity needs were met by the pollutive and imported fossil fuels (FFs) comprising coal and diesel, and in the other single day (1.45 per cent), splits were evenly (50:50) shared between FFs and RE, respectively
Consequently, RE led by “CEB Hydro” provided over 50 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity demand for 17 consecutive days to Tuesday (16 August), with Tuesday’s ‘CEB Hydro’ percentage figure alone being 84.31 per cent, CEB statistics further showed.
The last time, a period longer than this, where RE was the dominant player in Sri Lanka’s electricity sector for a consecutive number of days took place 69 days ago, where, for 30 consecutive days from 10 May to 8 June 2022, over 50 per cent of the island’s electricity needs were met by RE, once more led by “CEB Hydro.”
Meanwhile, in the 228 days that have transpired in the year to Tuesday, RE was responsible for providing 50 per cent or over of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs in only 67 (29.39 per cent) days and FFs in the balance 161 (70.61 per cent) days, respectively.
In related developments, of the total electricity supplied by the CEB to consumers in Sri Lanka on Tuesday which was 40.5 gigaWatt hours (gWh), FFs share was 17.17 gWh (42.40 per cent) and RE’s share was 23.33 gWh (57.60 per cent) respectively.
Tuesday’s FFs breakdown comprised CEB Coal 6.5 gWh, Private Sector (PS)/independent power producers’ Diesel 6.51 gWh and CEB Diesel 4.16 gWh, respectively. Tuesday’s RE breakdown comprised CEB Hydro 19.67 gWh, followed by CEB Wind 1.34 gWh, PS Wind 0.97 gWh, PS Mini-Hydro 0.92 gWh, PS Solar 0.32 gWh and PS Biomass 0.11 gWh, respectively.
‘CEB’s Hydro’ breakdown of Tuesday comprised Mahaweli 10.61 gWh, equivalent to 53.94 per cent of total ‘CEB Hydro’, Laxapana 7.20 gWh (36.60 per cent) and Samanalawewa (i.e. both Samanalawewa and Kukule Ganga hydroelectric power projects (HEPPs) together, 1.86 gwh (9.46 per cent), respectively. ‘Mahaweli Hydro’ comprises Victoria, Randenigala, Rantanbe, Kotmale and Upper Kotmale HEEP projects, 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 per one kilo Watt 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
However, Sri Lanka’s sole coal electricity generator, the 900 mW Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, is generally, only partially operative for several days, forcing the CEB to be over reliant on the expensive diesel to meet a large portion of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs on most days.
BY Paneetha Ameresekere