Sri Lanka should find alternative cost effective power sources

As hydro power generation reaches saturation point

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission Dr. Jayatissa de Costa, PC, says that Sri Lanka should opt for an alternative cost effective project as hydro power generation has reached saturation point.

"After the Upper Kotmale hydro power project plant is completed, we can’t construct any more large-scale hydro power projects in the hill country due to its environmental impacts and other issues. Therefore, we have to go for cost effective power generation schemes in the future, he noted.

Hydro electricity contribution to the national grid amounts to 42 percent, he explained. "But due to the unexpected drought in catchments areas, hydro power generation was reduced to 28 percent during this year".

In the power sector, the installed capacity for electricity generation from hydro, thermal and wind power now stands at 2,407 MW, compared to 1,409 MW in 1999.

Major hydropower potential will be fully developed with the commissioning of the Upper Kotmale project in the future, totaling an installed capacity of 1,355 MW.

"As coal producing countries have jacked up their prices, it is now uneconomical to go for coal power generation projects", he pointed out.

Dr Costa said the time is opportune to promote alternative, cost- effective power generation methods such as danro power, solar power, bio gas and other natural methods such as generating power by using Albisiya.

He said the government should show interest to promote the planting of Albisinya for this purpose. It has to be done as a commercial plant in the future to use it on a big scale to generate power.

It is reported that 80% of the households are enjoying the grid connected electricity while another 2% of households are provided with basic electricity connections through off-grid systems.

The demand for electricity is estimated to rise at an annual pace of 8% - 10%. Per capita consumption of electricity meanwhile reflected 394 kWh / person per annum in 2006, he said.

Early days of grid electricity generation saw hydro as the major component in electricity generation, accounting for more than 90% of the total generation. Recently, this component has been reduced to 35% mainly due to the exponential load growth, which cannot be met by this limited resource.

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