N’cholai doubling output too much to be absorbed

* Hydro plants likely to be shut down

By Ifham Nizam

 With the second phase of the of the first coal fired power plant at Norochcholai doubling its current out to 600 MW as it goes into operation in December, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) would have to either de-load or stop using hydro power, a senior engineer said.

The second phase in Norochcholai would add another 300MW to the present 300 MW in December and the national grid would, therefore, be getting 600MW from the plant, he said, warning that the country could not absorb its full capacity unless hydro generation was stopped.

Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) President, Senior Engineer, Nandika Pathirage told The Island that the Norochcholai plant would be shut down for 40 days, on August 21, for the annual maintenance and other repair work.

Pathirage said that the Second Phase would only commence operations in late October, but it would be connected to the grid in December.

The Island reliably learns that the Norochcholai Plant officials failed to utilise the ‘Defect Building Period’ which is something similar to that of a year’s warranty period. However, engineers have requested the Chinese to do the first free maintenance within the next three months.

The Chinese builder of the plant has often blamed the CEB for running the facility without annual maintenance. However, when the CEB finally agreed to carry out annual maintenance, earlier this month, the Chinese were a bit hesitant but they finally gave in.

The plant, since commencing operations in 2011, has broken down more than 20 times.

The plant was built at a cost of USD $ 455 million (a loan from China’s EXIM bank) by the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation.

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