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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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Sacked PUCSL Chairman fights back, writes to Prez



Former PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake yesterday showing the media a document at a news conference called by him in Colombo. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake yesterday wrote to President Wickremesinghe denying all allegations levelled against him.

Earlier in the day, Ratnayake received a note informing of his removal from the PUCSL.

“I write in response to your above captioned letter dated 22 March 2023. At the outset I strongly deny all and singular the several allegations contained against me in your letter under reference,” he said.

The PUCSL Chairman said his letter contained a detailed response..

“I was given an extremely short period of one week, despite the serious consequences that could flow from the misconceived allegations made against me,” Ratnayake said.

He said that the PUCSL was not a rubber stamp for proposals put forward by the Electricity Industry including the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

“But the PUCSL should duly exercise its powers and functions as an independent regulator even when the consequent decision reached by it may be one which is not desired by the CEB or the Government,” he said.

Ratnayake said that the PUCSL acting independently has resulted in the Minister of Power and Energy being unable at times to act at his whim and fancy.

“This appears to have irked the Minister of Power and Energy, and also the President. In May 2022, the secretary to the President had phoned my personal assistant instructing her to “ask the Chairman of the Commission to refrain from making any announcement or statement contradicting the speech made by the Prime Minister.”

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Singer Sri Lanka bags top awards



Singer Sri Lanka PLC clinched the People’s Brand of the Year and Durable Brand of the Year Awards for the 17th consecutive year at the SLIM-KANTAR Awards held at the Monarch Imperial on 27th March, 2023. Singer Sri Lanka PLC Chairman Mohan Pandithage receiving the award from Chief Guest, Sri Lanka Test Cricket Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Guest of Honour, Past President-SLIM Kalana Ratnayake at the glittering ceremony. Singer Sri Lanka PLC CEO Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Shanil Perera, Marketing Manager, Piyum Jayathilaka and other senior officials were present. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

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SJB trade unionist calls for significant fuel price reduction



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Convenor of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) trade union wing, Samagi Joint Trade Union Alliance, Ananda Palitha yesterday (28) said that with the appreciation of rupee against the USD and comparatively lower crude prices in the world market, the government could reduce the price of litre of petrol (92 Octane) and diesel by as much as Rs 100 and petrol (95 Octane) by Rs 125.

The trade unionist said that the price of a litre of kerosene, furnace oil and naphtha, too, could be decreased by Rs 100 each.

Responding to The Island queries, the former Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) employee said that fuel prices should be revised as fast as possible for the benefit of the public.

Lanka IOC should follow the new pricing formula, the former UNP trade union leader said, strongly urging the government to re-examine the petroleum sector. It would be pertinent to mention that petroleum and water sectors, too, should be brought under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of PUC Act No 35 of 2002, Ananda Palitha said.

Former Power and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that he was out of the country.

Therefore, I couldn’t comment without studying the latest developments.

Ananda Palitha found fault with political parties represented in parliament for the inordinate delay in fully implementing the Act that was meant to regulate three vital sectors. The PUC received authority to regulate the electricity industry, in terms of Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, Palitha said. However, respective Acts, pertaining to Petroleum and Water, were yet to be passed by Parliament, the trade union leader said pointing out that the delay on the part of the parliament seemed deliberate.

Asked whether they opposed the further liberalisation of retail market with the entry of more foreign companies, Ananda Palitha said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was exploiting the current political-economic-social crisis to advance the original agenda of Wickremesinghe.

“We are facing a frightening situation,” the SJB activist said, urging political parties represented in parliament to review rapid developments taking place. The entry of four foreign entities should be examined against the backdrop of Lanka IOC further expanding its operations here, Ananda Palitha said.

The outspoken trade unionist warned against moves to gradually weaken Sapugaskanda oil refinery to pave the way for increased import of refined products. “The refinery that launched operations in 1969 during Dudley Senbanayake’s era received the attention of President J.R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. But, since then no President paid attention to the facility,” Ananda Palitha said. Instead of enhancing its capacity, successive governments were working overtime to weaken it for obvious reasons, the trade unionist said.

According to him, all were attacking Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera over the continuing crisis in the petroleum sector. “We should question President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Cabinet-of-Ministers headed by the President and the relevant Sectoral Oversight Committee,” Ananda Palitah said.

Ananda Palitha said that political parties as well as some trade unions should accept responsibility for the pathetic situation in the petroleum sector. For want of a cohesive action plan, politicians and interested parties regardless of on and off setbacks were able to pursue their agendas detrimental to Sri Lanka, he said.

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