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Eminent scientist says SL consumers unlikely to see benefits of going green sans independent regulation



In the renewables sector

by Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka’s energy sector needs major revision based on a plan to ensure there are no black or grey areas, and there is stability in the grid to take renewables at scale, says a top Sri Lankan scientist based in the United Kingdom.

“I believe it is entirely possible for Sri Lanka to move towards 50% solar within a decade with the help of policymakers in terms of a credible master plan integrated to the country’s energy needs”, said Professor Ravi Silva, Director, Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, who has been awarded a CBE for his services to Science, Education and Research.

CBE (Commander of the British Empire) is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, followed by OBE and MBE. It ranks just below a knighthood or dame-hood.

The son of Roland Silva, a former Commissioner of Archaeology in Sri Lanka, the eminent scientist stressed the need for consistency in government policy and alignment of all stakeholders to achieve a common objective or goal such as a realistic 70% renewables target, which includes hydro.

For private sector involvement, there needs to be a clear and transparent framework. This will encourage FDI in the renewables sector, particularly with potential changes to the current electricity and regulation acts. Without independent regulation in the sector, it is difficult to envisage the consumers seeing the benefits of going green, the professor said in an email interview with The Sunday Island.

“Maybe an independent PPP for a one-stop-shop for investment in the power sector may open the doors for more private sector involvement with FDI”, he suggested.

Prof. Silva further said that Sri Lanka, as an island, is blessed with a wonderful geology with central hills surrounded by plains extending to the sea. There is also significant rainfall and a well developed hydroelectricity system in the country, with already established dams to store water that can be converted to electricity.

As a country situated close to the equator, Sri Lanka enjoys maximum solar irradiation that potentially provide all energy needs with a combination of solar, wind and pumped hydroelectricity as storage to run base load, he noted.

At prevailing market costs, solar is provided to major facilities at less than two US cents per kWhr by companies such as ‘8 Minutes’. There is no reason to stick to fossil fuels that harm the environment and costs more to the consumer in the longer term, he continued.

Prof. Silva said he delivered a talk to the National Trust in July 2019 on: “Clean, Green and Free: Solar Electricity for 2035”; where it was shown that with the help of minimal disturbance to human settlements, a distributed network of 10 solar farms of around 200MW each, (taking up in total of 100 acres) can power the nation with the help of the existing hydroelectricity network (this was based on the peak energy demand of 2016 of 2453 MW).

The idea is that pumped hydro can be used to ensure the base load is covered, and there is enough solar/renewable capacity to fit the peak power demand during the day via the solar installations, he remarked.

“My talk to the National Heritage Trust in Colombo in July 2019 was based on preserving the “heritage” of free light from the sun to the people of Sri Lanka so they can enjoy their rights much like the vistas of stupas and archaeological sites given to us by our forefathers. I strongly believe we are defined by the unique culture to which we have been born and blessed in Mother Lanka”, he noted.

“As a product of D. S. Senanayake College, I passionately believe in “country before self”, much like many of my brothers at DSS and all citizens”, he emphasized.

On Covid-19, Prof. Silva said, “Sri Lanka can define its destiny and come out of the pandemic stronger and more self-sufficient if we all believe in our nation, and develop our available resources with Sri Lankan ingenuity that exists in all sectors. We must believe and trust in evidence-based decision-making, and place faith in our industry to bring high-value products through science and technology to the markets.

“We must be proud to wear the “Made in Sri Lanka” label on both consumables and technology, and help build a better and more sustainable world for the generations to come”, he added.

Professor Silva was honored with a CBE for his outstanding services to Science, Education and Research over the past three decades with contributions that cut across the world.

CBE is awarded to individuals for playing a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level and also for distinguished and innovative contribution to any area.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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