More power cuts after China-built plant fails again

Thursday, 16 August 2012 01:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Sri Lanka increased the duration of daily power cuts by an hour on Wednesday, unable to meet demand after a newly built Chinese power plant failed and an extended drought severely hit hydropower production.

The island nation, which has long boasted of uninterrupted power supply, ordered cuts last month after the 300-megawatt (MW) Norochcholai coal plant in the northwest failed for a fifth time since it was commissioned in March last year.

The problem was further compounded by a drought since March that has knocked out 85 per cent of hydropower generation, the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said.

It extended nationwide power cuts to three hours and 20 minutes each day.

“It is mainly because of very bad situation in hydro power generation and due to the breakdown in the coal plant,” CEB Deputy Head Anura Wijepala said.

With the coal plant failure, the country lost 16 per cent of its capacity to meet peak demand of 1.88 gigawatts (GW), the utility said.

The plant was repaired last month, but another technical failure on 8 August forced it to shut it down. CEB said the plant was not performing up to standards.

China has loaned $450 million for the first phase of the coal plant and another $891 million for the second phase, which is due to be completed by July 2014 when the plant is expected to generate 900 MW.

Sri Lanka has total electricity generating capacity of 3.1 GW, but hydro power’s normal output of 1.2 GW has been cut by more than one GW due to the latest drought.