Solar energy to rescue drought-stricken Sri Lanka
Solar energy to increase the production, reduce the cost and burden on the fuel imports- power ministry
By Ranga Sirilal
Minister of power and renewable energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya at the Solar Energy Park in Hambantota. Photo courtesy: Minister of power and renewable energy.
Green power including rooftop solar panels are Sri Lanka’s answer to its energy shortages.
Sri Lanka exempt solar power equipments from all taxes and to grant maximum of 350,000 rupees ($2,295) loan under a concessionary interest for all the electricity customers.
The move comes as the Indian ocean island nation launched a campaign to promote electricity generated trough solar panels including rooftop solar panels to face the looming energy crisis due to prolong drought and to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports.
“The people ask us to give them concessionary loans we are going to give concessionary loan maximum of 350,000 rupees ($2,295) and the government is to bear the 50 percent of the interest,” Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy told Ateneo De Manila university xx after the island nations cabinet passed the proposal on Tuesday, March 21.
Perera also said the government has removed the taxes on solar panels and solar inverters in a bid to promote the solar power generation while government has followed an open and transparent tender procedure to build 60 of 1 Mw solar power plants around the country.
“Government is not investing a cent on this program but CEB will buy the electricity (generated) at the rate of 22 rupees per unit to 18.37 rupees a unit.” Perear said adding that the “Solar wind as well as other renewable energy source s will give us energy independence, foreign currency savings and better environment.”
Ministry of power and renewable energy is also promoting solar systems to generate electricity to light the street lights, to supply electricity to rural areas where the national grid is not available, solar powered drip irrigation and solar powered electric fences to protect people from the while elephants in rural villages where the electricity is not available.
“We have decided to provide solar energy systems to one million houses as a solution to power problem. This project will stop foreign exchange flowing out of the country,” Minister of power and renewable energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.
The ministry spokesman said by popularising the low cost solar powered drip irrigation technology in dry zone and Intermediate zones, where the water is scares, will improve the efficiency and sustainable management of water, soil and plant nutrients and the project aims to increase farm productivity, raise farms’ income and improve the lives of rural farmer families living in the dry zones of Sri Lanka.
The local government authorities were also promoting the solar power systems to grenade electricity for their farm lands.
Officials of the North Western province, launching a program to provide solar power systems to generate electricity for farmlands in the area. Picture courtesy http://www.lankadeepa.lk
DROUGHT TO WORSEN THE CRISIS
Sri Lanka’s worst drought since the early 1970s has destroyed crops and reduced electricity generation at hydro electrick plants. (Source: Daily Mirror)
Sri Lanka is suffering its worst drought in over 40 years. The lack of rain has reducing the hydro’s share of Sri Lanka’s power mix to below 13 percent by March 14 from an annual average of about 35 percent. Forcing the non-oil producing nation to import larger quantities of fuel to generate thermal powered electricity as the hydro power generation has reduced due to the drought worsening the already bloated balance of payment of the country.
As a result Sri Lanka’s $82 billion economy faces a balance of payment crisis mainly because of increased oil imports for electricity generation and could shoot up the prices of the imported goods amid the country has to import more commodities worsening the situation as the drought destroyed the crop.
Fuel imports in January jumped to double typical monthly levels to plug an energy shortfall
Electricity Generated on : February 22, 2017
Peak Power Demand 2339.1 MW
Reservoir Storage 402.1 GWh
The graphs shows the Sri Lankas energy mix as of
Dr. B.M Suren Batagoda, the secretary to the ministry of power and renewable energy said that around 500 mw, one fourth of the peak demand, is available as backup power in the country and the government will purchase electricity from those private institutions who owns backup power plants as a short term measure.
Batagoda also said that the government has taken measures to reduce the usage of air-conditioners in the state institutions, reduce the timeframe of street lights by two hours, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening and introduce 10 million low-cost LED lights as a measure to reduce the demand.
BATTLE FOR SOLAR ENERGY
The government’s long term electricity generation plan, Batagoda said is the generation of 1000 mw of solar roof-top power from 1 million households in 10 years.
Roof-top solar panels set up at an apartment complex by the JLanka Technologies in capital Colombo generate enough power to run the building. (Source: JK Lanka)
Batagoda said the government is looking at 300 Mw solar power to be added to the national grid in next 5 years including 200Mw rooftop solar units from about 200,000 households.
It is doing this through a new community-based power generation project ‘Soorya Bala Sangramaya‘ or Battle for Solar Energy. The project promotes small solar power plants on the rooftops of households, commercial establishments and industries to generate and use electricity on their premises. They have the option to sell the excess electricity to the national grid or bank it by charging batteries for later use.
“It has reduced my electricity cost and its very convenient. Not only it saves my electricity cost it also saves my fuel cost as I’m using an electric car and is charging at home,” Yohan De Croos said.
A 10-megawatt solar power plant set up by the Hayleys Group PLC and Windforce Pvt Ltd in Welikande in the Polonnaruwa District in Sri Lanka’s north-central province generates enough electricity to power a village (Source: company statement)