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SL power system expansion – Coal vs renewable energy


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  • Open letter to Minister of Power and Energy Ravi Karunanayake

 

Dear Minister,

I wish to share my views about the present power system expansion program in Sri Lanka.

A joint ADB/UNDP report released in 2017 glowingly expressed the belief that Sri Lanka can meet its current and future electricity demand through “judicial use of renewable energy (RE) by 2050”. 

This vision is in stark contrast to the national power system expansion program proposed by the CEB technocrats. The LTGEP – conditionally approved by the PUCL on 12 June 2018 – foresees the commissioning of 2,700 MW of coal power by year 2035. 

This is a rebuff to the vision portrayed in the ADB/UNDP report and revolutionary trends taking place globally on the RE front (prices falling, technology advancing and sentiments against use of coal rising). 

A clear demonstration of the trends on the power generation front is demonstrated clearly by the recent news items shown below:

Item 1: India to bid out 500 GW renewable energy capacity by 2028

350 GW would come from solar, 140 GW from wind, and the remaining from small hydro, biomass 

ETEnergyWorld - January 07, 2019

New Delhi: India is planning to bid out 500 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy generation capacity by 2028 to achieve its goal of 40 per cent electricity generation from non-fossil fuels by 2030.

 

Although the CEB plan was not approved by the PUCL it should worry you to note that the best and brightest of SL employed by the CEB view the world of power generation in totally different light. How does this come about? This should be a cause for concern because the power sector is critical to national development. Policies and technologies adopted should align with global trends and national development goals

 

https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/india-to-bid-out-500-gw-renewable-energy-capacity-by-2028/67418119

Item 2: AEMO: Cheapest way to replace coal is solar, wind, storage

17 July 2018

The Australian Energy Market Operator, in a ground-breaking study, has confirmed that the cheapest and smartest replacement for the country’s ageing coal-fired generators will be in solar, wind and storage technologies.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/aemo-cheapest-way-to-replace-coal-is-solar-wind-storage-58961/?utm_source=RE+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2b3c1f8f9d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_17_03_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_46a1943223-2b3c1f8f9d-40311541

Although the CEB plan was not approved by the PUCL it should worry you to note that the best and brightest of SL employed by the CEB view the world of power generation in totally different light. How does this come about?

This should be a cause for concern because the power sector is critical to national development. Policies and technologies adopted should align with global trends and national development goals. 

The evolution of a knowledge economy and the goal of creating skilled jobs is a commonly expressed vision of senior ministers in Government. Harnessing RE on large scale aligns with this goal. RE-based power plants evolve in distributed fashion and create skilled job opportunities island-wide.

GOSL must consider the ADB/UNDP report on RE as “work in progress” since many issues (“impediments”) must be addressed prior to firmly embracing the path towards rapid transition to RE dominance in the power sector.

The following are a sample of key issues:

  • Zoning of land for wind and solar
  • Role of hydropower in RE dominant scenario
  • Concerns of the state power sector technocrats
  • System simulations
  • Grid connection to India
  • Migratory avian concerns
  • RE plant investment challenge
  • Role of the CEB in RE dominant distributed generation scenario
  • Demand side management programs in RE dominant scenario

A firmly expressed goal to attain RE energy dominance will be enthusiastically supported by International Agencies promoting climate change mitigation strategies.

I strongly suggest that GOSL request ADB and UNDP to set up a SL specific conference to address matters related to practical implementation of a program that leads to RE dominance.

It would be a missed national development opportunity and tragedy if the SL RE report is allowed to be another study adorning libraries and book shelves of international agencies and state sector technocrats. 

Hope you find the comments useful.

Mayura Botejue

(The writer is a Consultant – Renewable Energy and can be reached via mbotejue@gmail.com.)


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