Cheap Hydro, Wind Power Provide 50%+ of SL’s Electricity after 208 Days
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Cheap and clean electricity powered by hydroelectricity and wind power together provided more than half of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs for the first time for the year on Friday, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) data released on Saturday showed.
The last time cheap and clean electricity was not only Sri Lanka’s number one electricity provider but which also provided more than half of the country’s electricity needs was on 18 October 2020, i.e., 208 days ago to Friday, records showed. Meanwhile, on Friday, ‘wind’ and ‘hydro’ together provided 51.06 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity needs, followed by CEB thermal coal 45.05 per cent and CEB thermal oil 3.58 per cent, respectively.
Coal and oil are environmentally pollutive imported substances. CEB doesn’t give the amount of electricity provided by solar, another clean and cheap source of electricity on Friday. According to Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL’s) 2020 Annual Report which was released on 30 April, the cost of producing one unit (one kilowattthour (kWh)) of hydroelectricity last year was Rs 2.32, CEB thermal coal more than four times than that at Rs 9.81 a unit and CEB thermal oil, 13 times the cost of hydroelectricity at Rs29.94 a unit. CBSL doesn’t give the cost of producing one unit of wind electricity.
‘Sri Lanka consumed a total of 32.1 gigaWatthours (gWh) of electricity on Friday,’ CEB said. Of this number, coal provided 14.46gWh, hydro13.84gWh, wind2.65gWh and oil1.15gWh. Segmentalising the production of hydroelectricity on Friday, Mahaweli provided 6.16 gwh or 19.19 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total electricity needs on that day, Laxapana 3.82 gWh (11.90 per cent), Kukule Ganga 1.87gWh (5.83 per cent), Samanala Wewa1.84 gWh(5.73 per cent) and CEB (small hydro)0.15gWh (0.47 per cent).
Mahaweli comprises, Victoria, Kotmale, Randenigala, Rantanbe and Upper Kotmale hydroelectricity reservoirs. Victoria, Kotmale, Randenigala and Rantanbe were built during the J.R. Jayewardene era after obtaining grant aid from the UK, Sweden and the then West Germany (both Randenigala and Rantanbe). Upper Kotmale conceptualised during the Jayewardene era was built during the Mahinda Rajapaksa era after obtaining a soft loan from Japan.
Laxapana was built after obtaining a World Bank soft loan during the D.S. Senananayke era; Kukule, conceptualised during the Ranasinghe Premadasa era was built during the Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga era after obtaining a soft loan from Japan and Samanala Wewa conceptialised during the Jayewardene era, was built during the Premadasa era after obtaining a soft loan from Japan.