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Govt. unveil plans to build solar power based national mini-grid



Apart from LNG plants in the pipeline


As the demand-supply gap in Sri Lanka’s power generation sector continues to widens, the government announced plans for an ambitious solar power based national mini-grid that extends to villages. This is apart from the LNG plants in the pipeline.

Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath said that on completion, the proposed solar network is expected to offer a unit of electricity 45% lower than electricity produced from existing solar powered networks.

Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is also the Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation, has instructed the CEB to construct 100-kilowatt solar power plants and connect them to 7,250 transformers across the country within the next three years.

A key feature of the project is that it is fashioned on the support of villagers at local level. The village level credit and finance institutions such as Samurdhi Banks, Rural Banks, Cooperative Societies and Community Network projects are also considered as key investors in the project which calls for an estimated Rs. 10 million (USD 56,000) investment.

Competitive bidding is to be called soon, according to official sources, who also revealed the projected 1,000MW can be obtained at Rs. 12 per unit, 45% lower than the 300MW of solar energy obtained at Rs. 22 per unit for the last five years.

The project, which is in line with the CEB and Lanka Electricity Company’s (LECO) project to connect 10,000, 100 kW solar power plants to the Distribution Transformer Network, will integrate 7,250 transformers from the 35,000 transformer network installed across the country.

In Sri Lanka, the gap between the demand and supply of power is fast becoming unbridgeable. According to CEB estimates, Sri Lanka’s electricity demand is expected to grow at 5.3 percent on average in the 2015 – 2034 period, in addition the peak demand is expected to grow at 4.7 percent on average.

With the average cost of generation at Rs. 23 and the selling price at Rs. 16, the CEB finds hard to bridge the gap. This trend had been continuing for more than four years.  

A senior Electrical Engineer said the CEB cannot go on with expensive diesel and emergency power and should stick with the proposed Long Term Generation Plan.

CEB’s Long-Term Generation Expansion Plan encompasses LNG-fired combined cycle power plants and associated LNG import infrastructure – 2×300 MW dual fuel combined cycle power plants to be commissioned in the western region by 2022.

The associated LNG importing infrastructure is to be developed on a fast track process with sufficient capacity to cater to both the new power plants and the conversion of other oil-fired combined cycle power plants in the western region.

Furthermore, an additional 3×300 MW natural gas combined cycle power plants are expected to be commissioned by 2026 in either Kerawalapitiya or Hambantota.

Power and Energy Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said that during the last five years, only 300MW were added to the national grid, although the demand for electricity is growing at 6% on an annual basis.

Lanka Transformers Limited (LTL), which will own a majority stake has received Cabinet approval for the construction. The power plant with a capacity of 300MW (extending up to 350MW) to be commenced at the Lakdanavi Power Plant premises in Kerawalapitiya in December after the Power Purchase Agreement signed later this month.

The first phase of plant, the open cycle 225 MW, will be completed in 21 months and 125MW Combined Cycle would be completed in one year, a senior Electrical Engineer told The Sunday Island.

He said that the government should go all out to call for tenders to bring LNG at the earliest, rather than waiting till the plants are completed. “This is a crucial process that cannot be taken lightly,” he added

At present, about 35 percent of Sri Lanka’s national power generation comes from diesel power plants where the cost of production per unit is as high as Rs. 30. LNG power plants can reduce the cost up to Rs. 15 per unit.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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