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CEB to float tenders for solar power generation under free market demand-supply dynamics



By Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will float tenders to attract more investors willing to undertake solar power generation under free market demand-supply dynamics, officials said.

While promoting solar energy from its inception, a gradual transformation from the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme to a competitive bidding process has been introduced by the CEB in keeping with the tariff reduction trend in the global market.

“Prospective solar power developers can now bid for very competitive rates”, they assured.

Initially, the CEB introduced the cost reflective feed-in tariff scheme to attract investments for the new technology. After the solar power industry grew, the CEB gradually introduced the competitive bidding process in line with the Sri Lanka Electricity Act.

As at December 2020, 414 MW of Solar power capacity has been grid connected. Interestingly, solar power generation has become an open market for many the world over, who exploit the freely available and almost non-exhaustible energy.

The CEB has already initiated the first phase of the planned 7,000 ground mounted solar power projects with installed capacity of 75 kW (AC) each (total project target 525 MW) to be positioned in rural and semi urban areas. The project, promoted under the theme ‘Gamata Balagarayak’ pioneers the engagement of local entrepreneurs for national energy generation.

The CEB has pledged its commitment to renewable, clean and green energy, with solar power taking the lead as a key energy source.

Under the declared policy of the government, it is envisaged to generate 70 per cent of the overall power demand from clean and renewable power sources. In this order, the CEB places top priority to finance solar power projects across the country through private sector participation, they said.

Around Rs. 7.2 billion has been allocated for future capacity enhancement of transmission networks and augmentation of grid substations to develop renewable energy, the officials said.

The Long Term Generation Expansion Plan (LTGEP) draft 2020-2039 proposed an increased renewable energy addition target (including solar PV) compared to the approved previous 2018-2037 plan.

As the 2020-2039 draft has not been approved yet despite its submission many months ago, the CEB is now preparing the draft LTGEP 2022-2041 with enhanced renewable energy addition targets to boost the renewable energy share by 2030 as stipulated by the prevailing policy guidelines.

As a developing country, Sri Lanka has been reaping the benefits of these indigenous renewable energy sources for decades with sustainable economic growth, they pointed out.

With almost all major hydro-power resources tapped, it is expected to gradually phase out the use of fossil fuel based thermal power. Energy experts are of the view that the world will experience a gradual reduction of fossil fuel by the middle of this century.

The country’s electricity energy needs were predominantly met by renewable energy sources over decades, with the prime contribution from major hydro power resources enabling the country to maintain green credential with low carbon emissions per capita level in power generation throughout the past years.

However, the growing energy demand necessitated the development of different power generation sources. When global consensus was in place to combat climate change, Sri Lanka progressed towards low carbon pathways through renewable energy.

A substantial increase of renewable energy sources is envisaged in the electricity sector thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing energy security aspects, the officials said.

Situated within the equatorial belt, Sri Lanka’s solar resource maps indicate higher potentials in the northern half, eastern and southern parts of the country. The potential in other areas including mountainous regions is mainly characterized by climatic and geographical features and the use of available resources require the consideration of competing land values for the proposed projects and availability of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Solar Photovoltaic development in Sri Lanka has been gathering momentum due to rapidly falling costs of technology and global trends in the improvement in solar PV technology as a clean energy. At present, with the facilitation of the Ministry of Power, the CEB and Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), development of grid scale solar PV power projects, small scale distributed solar PV projects and rooftop solar PV installations are in progress on a commercial scale.

Distributed solar PV resource development has its own advantages and challenges that require careful consideration. Similar to the wind resource, the technical potential of integrating solar PV resources into the power system is assessed by the renewable energy grid integration study conducted by the CEB.

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SLFP tells major partner how to resolve crisis



Kotelawala Bill rallying point for Opposition

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has offered to support the proposed Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) Act if the government met its four conditions primarily meant to ensure KNDU remained within the State University system.

The SLFP, in a missive dated Aug 3 addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has made the following amendments to the KNDU Bill, namely (i) the KNDU should be under the University Grants Commission (UGC) (ii) those outside the military to be admitted on the basis of Z-Score rankings (iii) taking into consideration undergraduates had to pay for receiving education at the KNDU and making arrangements to provide them with loans payable later and (iv) civilians should be in the majority in the unversity governing bodies.

The SLFP parliamentary group consists of 14, including one National List member, Dr. Suren Raghvan. The SLPP with 116 seats on its own enjoys a simple majority in Parliament.

Office of former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (4) made available a copy of its letter to the President signed by Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, MP, Chairman of the SLFP committee that inquired into the simmering KNDU controversy.

The SLPP decision to go ahead with KNDU Act has triggered protests in Colombo and several other areas, including Jaffna.

Acknowledging the pivotal importance in addressing issues pertaining to University level education, particularly those who couldn’t enter State universities seeking entry into Universities even in developing countries, the SLFP has recommended the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to examine the issue at hand within a specific period would be the most suitable measure. However, if the government wanted to move the matter expeditiously in Parliament, the SLFP believed the above mentioned four amendments should be included.

Lawmaker Siyambalapitiya told The Island that the party consulted the SLFP parliamentary group as well as several other stakeholders before reaching consensus on the KNDU Act. MP Siyambalapitiya said that the SLFP expected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pay special attention to the suggestions made.

Senior Vice President of the SLFP Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa told The Island that if there had been proper mechanism for consultations among constituents of the SLPP led alliance issues such as the KNDU Bill could have been easily avoided. Prof. Piyadasa emphasized that those in political authority should have consulted all constituents before it finalised the KNDU Bill and presenting it to Parliament. Responding to another query, Piyadasa pointed out why SLPP should do away with the practice of taking major decisions without consulting constituents. The academic cited the enactment of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Oct 2020 and the passage of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill as two glaring examples.

Prof. Piyadasa pointed out how some sections of the Opposition exploited mishandling of the KNDU issue to such an extent that now trade unions affiliated to political parties brought dozens of groups under one banner. They had managed to cleverly mix teachers’ salary issue with the KNDU controversy, Prof. Piyadasa said, alleging the government allowed the situation to get out of hand. Tuesday’s violent protest on the road leading to Parliament highlighted the deterioration of the situation and the failure on the part of the government to address the issue at hand, prudently.

Prof. Piyadasa said that the government couldn’t ignore concerns expressed by the Government Medical Officers’ Association and the Association of Medical Specialists in that regard. Pointing out the government could easily resolve the issue by following the SLFP’s recommendations, Prof. Piyadasa said urging the government to respond to the developing situation swiftly and decisively.

Referring to a spate of statements issued by the Defence Ministry in that regard, Prof. Piyadasa said that the government should seek the backing of all political parties represented in parliament to expand capacity of State Universities.

He said that the SLFP recently discussed the matter with breakaway JVP faction, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP). Except perhaps for some pursuing agendas of their own, vast majority of lawmakers wouldn’t back the proposed KNDU Bill in its present form, Prof. Piyadasa said.

Piyadasa emphasized unnecessary trouble caused by the government’s shortsighted strategy couldn’t be resolved by resorting to police crackdowns.

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Shouting match over arrest and detention of MP



By Saman Indrajith

Parliament was plunged into turmoil yesterday over the arrest and detention of MP Rishad Bathiudeen, while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in the Chamber. 

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, raising a point of order, said that MP Bathiudeen had been detained for nearly 100 days without being charged. “MP Bathiudeen has not been given a charge sheet. The police have not even informed the Speaker of this arrest and detention of the MP. His case had been postponed four times. This is against British parliamentary traditions. This amounts to the breach of privileges of the MP. We demand that the MP should be set free.”

 Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: I have been informed of the arrest of MP Bathiudeen.

 Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: On what grounds? 

The Speaker: For an investigation.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: It cannot be accepted as a reason for the arrest. On what grounds the arrest has been made?

(MPs of government side shouts at the Chief Opposition Whip) 

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando: Time was when we too were taken into custody. No reasons were given. The then Speaker did not speak a word when we were taken into custody. Where had that tradition been then?

 Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: This is a matter of importance for each and every MP. This is applicable to all of us. This could happen to you one day. There have been several Presidents in the country, but no MP was detained under any of them in this manner. 

Leader of the House Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena: There is an investigation against MP Bathiudeen. Another probe has also been initiated by the police. Those investigations have to be conducted properly. There is no meaning in shouting here while there are investigations pending against MP Bathiudeen.

(SJB MPs shout against the government while the Speaker was trying to bring the House in order)

 MP Rishad Bathiudeen: Ninety-two days have lapsed since I was taken into custody. There were investigations only for five days. I am being detained in a dark room for 24 hours. There is no reason for my arrest. I am telling the President of this country, Sir, there is no reason for my arrest. There was an additional secretary by the name of Balasubramaniyam in my ministry. I am told that I was arrested over a telephone conversation that Balasubraniyam had with somebody.

Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando: MP Bathiudeen mentioned one Balasubramaniyam. Balasubramaniyam has fled the country. You should know that.



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Several policemen injured as IUSF-led protesters topple police barricades



Maharagama OIC’s fingers badly mangled

By Saman Indrajith

Several policemen had been injured on Tuesday when undergraduates, led by the Inter-University Students Federation, toppled barricades set up to prevent them from marching on the road leading to Parliament.

Among the injured is OIC of the Maharagama police, Chief Inspector H.H. Janakantha, who was operated on at the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital. Three of his fingers in his hand were badly mangled. He was first taken to the Medical Centre in the parliamentary complex but later transferred to the Jayewardenepura hospital.

 The protesters wrested the barricade from policemen who were attempting to hold back the protesters.

The Maharagama OIC was among additional policemen summoned from nearby stations to strengthen the security of Parliament and the high security zone.

The protesters led by the IUSF started from several places to march towards Parliament around noon to protest against the proposed Kotelawala National Defence University Bill. The main march started from the Ayurveda Roundabout in Borella. The march created heavy traffic between the Ayurveda roundabout and Battaramulla during the lunch hour traffic.

The protesters could not be stopped at the Parliament Roundabout, and they proceeded up to the Jayanthipura entrance to the Parliament premises. They pulled down barricades but the police managed to stop them at that point. The IUSF activists set a coffin labelled ‘the death of free education’ on fire at the main entrance to Parliament. The protesters dispersed about one hour later after IUSF convener Wasantha Mudalige and Prof. Mahim Mendis of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations made speeches against the KNDU (Kotelawala National Defence Univeristy) Bill. 



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