Focus/Spotlight

Mannar Wind Power Project | Still blowing in the wind

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Mannar Wind Power Project (MWPP), which is at least a year behind schedule, plans to add 100 MW to the national grid by the end of this year, according to the Ministry of Power.

As learnt by The Sunday Morning, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has incurred Rs. 8,000 million per year – around Rs. 21 million per day – in losses due to the delay in commissioning the wind power project.

According to Ministry of Power Spokesman Sulakshana Jayawardena, if the power plant was commissioned as it was scheduled last year, the high-cost generations would have been replaced by wind power.

He told The Sunday Morning that the generation cost of a unit of wind power was around Rs. 9, while the generation cost of high-cost diesel power stood at around Rs. 39 at present.

Explaining further, Jayawardena said the construction work of the power plant was to be completed last December but had been delayed due to various reasons, and at present, the erection of all towers had already been completed.

The CEB is expecting that the rest of the construction work be completed by the end of this year by connecting an additional 100 MW to the national grid.

The contract has been awarded by the CEB to Vestas Asia Pacific A/S, a world-renowned Danish wind turbine manufacturer, to build the first large-scale wind farm in the southern coast of Mannar.

The project comprises 30 state-of-the-art wind turbines, each rated to 3.45 MW, while the total installed capacity of this wind farm is 103.5 MW.

The MWPP recently completed the final main gravity foundation along with the erection of the 10th wind turbine. The primary contractor, Vestas Asia Pacific, along with their specialist civil engineering contractor, Access Engineering PLC, has achieved satisfactory progress amidst the challenging conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project work commenced in March 2019.

According to the CEB, this is the culmination of a long-term effort by CEB to develop wind power in a large scale, exploiting the major monsoonal wind systems in Sri Lanka.

In this project, the CEB intends to harness power from wind on a large scale, on the same lines as it did with the hydropower potential in the last century.

The funding required for this wind farm and other associated facilities in Mannar and Anuradhapura has been arranged through a loan provided by Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The project is also supported by a consultancy service contract with COWI A/S of Denmark and a Warranty Operations and Maintenance contract (WOM) for the initial three-year period. Total investment for the wind farm is approximately $ 141 million.

According to Jayawardena, most of the work has already been done and the CEB will be able to connect at least part of it within September or October.

“We are planning to finish the balance within this year, which is 100 MW. There was a delay in grid substations because of the Covid-19 situation and other difficulties. We managed to overcome these issues during the Covid time. We planned to connect 100 MW this year,” he stressed.

Elaborating further, he noted that the potential of the Mannar location was around 300 MW and steps will be taken to develop several other projects in the area.

“We are planning to add another 23 MW and the rest we are going to develop with the private sector because this is a commercially viable sector. Mannar has high potential for wind power,” he said, adding that the CEB was planning to add another 240 MW of wind power in Pooneryn.

“Studies are being conducted by the ISE to develop Requests for Proposal (RFP) and other sorts of studies. Apart from that, we very recently floated a tender for 60 MW of wind. We received proposals for grid substations and we are going to award the 60 MW to private sector developers. Another two 10 MW wind power plants will be commissioned at Chavakachcheri,” Jayawardena noted.

According to him, the CEB is planning to add approximately 800 MW of wind power to the national grid within the next 10 years. At present, 148 MW has already been connected to the national grid.

Once commissioned, the Mannar wind farm cam supply more than 380 million units of clean electricity to the national grid, annually. Electricity from this project can be generated for less than 5 cents/kWh. One of the major benefits of this project is its ability to displace large amounts of fossil fuel-based electricity generation and thereby avoid emissions amounting to 285,000 MT of CO2 to the environment, annually.

The Mannar wind farm will be operated as a semi-dispatchable power plant supported with an advanced wind forecasting system to optimise and control the wind-generated electricity to the national grid. This is in addition to the bird detection radar system to implement a selective shutdown of wind turbines to avoid bird collisions, if any.

The project is implemented as a benchmark project to ascertain the possibility of integrating large-scale wind plants to the national grid with relevant grid support facilities. The project is also planned in line with the Government’s policy target to achieve 20% nonconventional renewable power generation by 2020.

Upon completion, this project will be the first major addition of renewable energy to the national grid, thereby complementing the Government’s initiative to prioritise sustainable clean energy to the national grid.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning, CEB General Manager Eng. Keerthi Karunaratne said the project was at the final stage of completion and once it is completed, 100 MW of wind power will be added to the national grid.

State Minister of Solar Power, Wind, and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development Duminda Dissanayake said that there were a number of new projects in the pipeline and the planning of these projects will be done by the end of next week.