2,000 MW renewable energy to grid by December 2023
10 months ago
125 projects receive go-ahead
1,000 MW per annum need to be added to meet 70% renewable energy by 2030
Investor for 1,000 MW H’tota offshore wind plant
BY Pamodi WaravitaSolar Power, Wind, and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development State Minister Duminda Dissanayake said yesterday (31 March) that 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, generated through renewable energy sources, will be added to the national grid by December 2023.“Our goal is to generate 70% of the electricity using renewable energy sources by 2030. Then, the price of the US dollar which affects our fuel imports for electricity generation won’t matter as we will be using solar and wind then. Renewable energy is the answer. Last year, we called for proposals for renewable energy projects that are able to generate more than 50 MW of electricity. We got over 550 proposals. From those proposals, we have approved about 125, the ones that already have their own land to implement their projects,” said Dissanayake at the media briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre yesterday.Reports show that there is a long delay in the Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB) approval process for renewable energy projects, especially small-scale ones, as an amendment made to the CEB Act in 2013 has made it compulsory to call for a competitive bidding process for all power projects awarded by the CEB. At a panel discussion held earlier this year, renewable energy industry specialists, including the Small Hydro Power Developers’ Association and the Ground Mounted Solar Developers’ Association said that renewable energy developers run into a myriad of challenges from the CEB due to delayed approval and grid connections, sometimes attributed to incorrect technical analysis.“In 2014, the CEB Act changed, and due to one word, about eight years have passed during which time no renewable energy projects have been added to the national grid. However, now we have passed a cabinet paper, and we hope to receive the Attorney General’s approval, and finalise the approval process in Parliament by 4 April. The aforementioned 125 projects amount to about 2,000 MW. If they take six months to gain approval, and one year for the construction, the 2,000 MW can be added to the grid by December 2023,” assured Dissanayake.He noted that if the country is to run on 70% renewable energy by 2030, it needs 9,000 MW of electricity generated using renewable energy sources “including the energy needs of the transport sector”. “This means that we have to add about 1,000 MW to the national grid each year.”Furthermore, he said that the Solar Power, Wind, and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development State Ministry has received a proposal to generate 5,000 MW of electricity at an offshore wind plant in the Hambantota seas. “This investor wants to provide 1,000 MW to Sri Lanka and export the remaining 4,000 MW to Singapore, which has called for renewable energy projects. This could be a great source of foreign exchange for us and Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi has already signed the cabinet paper regarding it. We have to present it to the Cabinet of Ministers now,” he said.A series of issues has plagued the country’s energy-related sector since the beginning of the year. Since January 2022, the CEB has been struggling to find fuel for its thermal power stations, as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), which imports fuel, has been throttled by the foreign exchange shortage in the country. Water reserves have drastically reduced during this year’s dry season, hampering the generation of electricity using hydropower. Ultimately, the Sri Lankan public has been forced to endure lengthy power cuts, including a 10-hour-long power cut on Wednesday (30 March) and a power cut lasting a total of 13 hours yesterday.