France to support energy efficiency in construction sector

Thursday, 21 June 2012 02:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis

Several French institutions are exploring prospects to offer energy efficiency solutions to the booming construction sector in Sri Lanka.

At a key industry forum organised by the Trade Commission of the French Embassy

Yesterday, seven French companies along with French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) Energy Expert Robert Angiletti and French Financial Institution Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Regional Coordinator for Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh Daniel Vain made presentations for the benefit of local construction sector.

Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka Christine Robichon commented that special focus is placed on environmental friendly and energy saving technologies and practices by public and private sector by the Government.

She said, “The Government encourages institutions and companies to employ an Energy Manager in charge of energy consumption management. In December 2011 the government launched SLS ISO 50001, the local version of the international standard for the management of energy.”

Many sectors, in particular hotel and apparel have introduced this to their operations. 

Commenting on brining in construction sector to the equation of the forum, she stated that since more projects are happening in the post war era, in particular in the North/ East region according to the development plan the sector is growing rapidly, consuming more and more energy.

“After a growth rate of 9.3% in 2010, the industry recorded a rate of 14.2% in 2011,” Robichon said.

Sustainable Energy Authority Director General Dr. Thusitha Sugathapala speaking at the forum said electricity demand in Sri Lanka has risen at a rate of 8-10% per year, moving on a parallel level to the GDP growth of the country making Sri Lanka unable to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand.

He said that while the electrification of Sri Lanka is at a 92% as at 2011 with a target to reach 100% this year, the challenge will be to maintain the 100% in the future, particularly by 2020 when the demand is expected to double.

“The target is to reach total electrification by this year. We are confident that the level could be achieved within a few months time. However the task is to maintain the level in the future,” Dr. Sugathapala said.

For this, the Authority has set itself two goals, he said. It aims to generate 20% of the electricity by renewable energy while conserving another 20% of waste energy by 2020. He also warned that in 40 years time, the danger for depending greatly on fossil fuel is a possibility. However on a local context, the country is now looking at other options such as renewable sources.

Further he explained, “When we reach the 100% level of electrification, we are likely to get 96-97% by grid electricity, while the remaining will be from the off peak system.” Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will handle the grid electricity while the Authority has already implemented a special project called ‘Grama Shakthi’ which carries on special  programs to have off peak integration like solar systems, small hydro, eco hydro and few bio gas systems. New technologies to further the efficiency are now being looked at.

Sugathapala stated that as at now 48% of energy is produced by bio mass, 40% by petroleum and 19% on hydro. This again poses yet another problem as the price in oil rises. “Oil prices are going up. Although we hope to have low cost electricity in the future i.e. 5-10 years due to this, we might not be able to get the desired effect. Due to the cost factor we are now looking at switching to coal.”

The generation plan of CEB is now looking at depending on coal for the future. As at now the country has 300mw which can be increased to 900mw in the next phase, Sugathapala said. Another coal plant is supposed to come in, in the near future.

There is now a demand to build energy, he said.

The Authority has organised programs under the four main categories of regulatory, services, awareness and financing to create awareness and to support the goals of energy efficiency and sustainability. A number of programs have been lined up under the National Energy Management Plan (EnMAP) for the five year period between 2012 and 2016 to systematically carry out the schedule.

Among the listed activities, are coming up with energy labelling appliances, energy efficient building codes, accreditation of Energy Managers, Energy Auditors and data reporting under the first category. “Recently a program on Energy Efficient and Environmentally Sustainable Transport (E3ST) Systems was launched to improve fuel economy in transportation,” he said. On commercial and industrial front, efforts in implementing E2 programs are supported by providing instruments and expertise on energy auditing; developing sector specific programs and formulating projects for implementation through accredited Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) were mentioned. Currently a series of awareness and educational programs are also being implemented.

Sugathapala noted that the EnMAP has been presented to the parliament and that a cabinet subcommittee has been appointed to look into the matter. “We hope this will be accepted by the budget this year and implemented as a national program next year.”