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Cabinet approves 28 1 MW solar power projects


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  • Electricity Act amended to enable more flexibility in procurement, excepts projects less than 10 MW from tender process  
  • New laws to certify elevators and escalators to ensure safety

     

By Chathuri Dissanayake

The Cabinet this week approved a proposal to award 28 projects of 1 MW under the second phase of the Suryabala Sangramaya Program spread across the country, the Information Department said. The proposal presented by the Power, Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake noted that the move is in line with Government policy of sourcing 60% of the electricity supply from renewables by 2030.

The Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee has recommended 28 investors to set up plants which will be set up in Anuradhapura, Vavunathivu, Mahawa, Pannala and Valachchenai for prices between Rs. 12.84-15.93 KWh information department said.

“This is being awarded under the 90 projects which were tendered earlier. We have awarded the majority of the tenders there are close to 35 more 1 MW projects to be awarded,” Power Energy and Business Development Ministry Secretary told Daily FT.

“Under the first phase of the project, which aimed to build 60 plants of 1 MW each, only 37 materialised as there were no qualifying bidders,” he said. The bidding conditions followed in stage one of the Suryabala Sangramaya Program was then revised to ensure more bids are received during the second phase.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also gave approval to amendment of the Electricity Act to allow a more flexible approach in procuring electricity less than 10 MW from renewable energy sources.

The proposal made by Karunanayake noted that problems have been observed in implementing electricity generation projects due to policy and legal differences in Ceylon Electricity Board, Public Utilities Commission and Sustainable Energy Authority concerning establishment of electricity power plants, the notes announcing Cabinet decisions said.

To minimise issues faced, the Electricity Act of 2009 and the Electricity (Amendment) Act of 2013 will be amended to enable a “more flexible procedure to procure electricity” from all plants that are less than 10 MW from non-traditional energy sources, the information department said.

According to the Act, there is a requirement to carry out tender process for all generating plants despite the size. However, an attempt to amend the regulation in 2013 to exempt plants below 10 MW from requiring procurement process was not carried out as required and this amendment will address the issue, Dr. Batagoda said.

“Due to this issue, there was not a single mini-hydro plant or biomass plant that was set up in the last four years. We even had issues getting a loan from ADB bank for solar power projects, the amendment will address that issue,” he said.

The new amendment exempts all plants below 10 MW capacity from tender process, he noted.

The Minister through a separate Cabinet proposal received approval from the Government to make safety certificate for all elevators and escalators in the country. Karunanayake informed the Government that majority of the accidents related to escalators and elevators have been caused by issues in electricity supply noting that a certificate should be issued through a procedure devised by relevant authorities.


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