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Energy expert advises against country walking into fossil fuel trap



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The unit cost of a regasified liquefied natural gas (R-LNG) power plant will be Rs. 19 at the current exchange rate (Rs. 200 per dollar) and will further increase as the rupee depreciates, energy expert Vidhura Ralapanawe told The Island yesterday.

However, according to the CEB, the average selling price of a unit of electricity is around Rs.16.88.

Ralapanawe said that some experts were arguing for natural gas for electricity generation in Sri Lanka as a ‘low-cost option’. However, it would only be feasible if Sri Lanka printed US dollars, he said.

“I have taken the CEB’s own cost calculation for the 300MW LNG power plant (originally tendered in 2016) and is awaiting the PPA approval. The tender used a fixed exchange rate for 20 years at Rs 150 per USD. No other assumptions of the CEB (including fuel costs) has been changed.

“Revising the rate to 200 (January 2021) gives the RLNG-based power cost to be Rs 19 per unit. Using a 3% YoY depreciation moves exchange rate to Rs 225 in 2024 – the year we are likely to get RLNG (if it comes), and the cost moves to Rs. 21.70. According to the CEB, the average selling price is around Rs. 16.88.”

Ralapanawe said that the price would increase with transmission, distribution and other costs, making the CEB increase electricity tariff by a significant margin

“There is a recommendation by an expert associated with the CEB to increase tariffs by Rs. 2.30 per unit, per year. To meet the losses incurred by the Board.”

Ralapanawe said that the CEB could either increase tariffs to meet the losses or look at cheaper sources of electricity. Renewable energy was tendered in rupee between 9 – 13 Rupees per kWh, he added.

“As a country full of renewables, we should ask why we are purposefully walking into this fossil fuel trap.”



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters




(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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Foreign News

US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China




US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF



Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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