LET’S BE ENERGY LEADERS
By Wasantha Perera
Secretary/ Ministry of Power
What and Why a ‘National Energy Day’?
Energy is the creator of a modern society. Our lives revolve around the continuous energy supply, which is made possible by the advanced infrastructure that exists in our cities. The energy supplied to us through our wall sockets, the flow of fuel to vehicles around, and the massive volume of power supplied through our electricity network to power our industries is crucial to our everyday well-being.
Driving the energy sector of the country to efficiency not only marks the success of our economic management, but also the assurance of our future habitability and well-being. This mission of energy management is no small feat. It requires a collective effort of each and every member within our society. A collective mission to conserve energy opens up enormous possibilities and stimulates creativity among our SMEs.
We celebrate National Energy Day to remember this mission and empower the next generation to be a part of it. Today is the day dedicated to energy education, energy awareness and energy innovations. It is dedicated to the experts teach the nation how to conserve energy and help them understand its importance. Importantly, today is the day that we show our gratitude to the endless possibilities provided to us through the energy system, and recognize how we preserve it.
What is energy? How energy dependent are we?
For a long time, scientists and engineers thought mechanical energy and thermal energy were two different types of energy that cannot be mixed together. Mechanical energy is the energy in moving objects, and the energy required to move and lift things. Thermal energy is the energy required to generate heat. In the late 17th century, scientists found out that thermal energy, in fact, can be converted to mechanical energy and vice versa.
Energy comes in so many different forms. We utilize energy to perform motor skills; to throw, lift heat and emit light. Heat, light, sound and electricity are also forms of energy and energy can be converted from one form to the other. Heat can be converted to mechanical energy and mechanical energy into electrical energy by way of using a generator. Light energy can be converted to electricity using solar cells. As we all know, electrical energy is converted to light through a light bulb. This conversion created a new technology called energy technology. Today everybody converts all primary energy sources to electricity, transport to the point of consumption and convert it back to the energy form, which is required.
The energy requirement of the world is supplied by various resources that contain energy within them. Fossil fuels such as crude oil and coal are the most prominent primary energy sources in the world. Still, the firewood and plant components supply a significant portion of the world’s energy requirement. Nuclear energy created by the nuclear reactions of radioactive substances, such as Uranium and Plutonium found in our soil, is also a primary energy source of the world. Hydro energy in water stored at heights are used in hydro-power plants to generate electricity. The light energy in direct sunlight and the wind created by the differential heating of the atmosphere by the sun’s energy provide us with very valuable energy sources. Energy in ocean currents is also an important modern energy source tapped by undersea generators. All these are crucial energy sources that supply energy throughout the world.
In Sri Lanka our primary energy supply comes from fossil fuels (53%), solar (13%), wind and hydro (34%) and biomass. 28% of this primary energy supply is converted to electricity. Our industries consume 26% of the country’s energy. The domestic and commercial sector consumes 41% and 33% by the transport sector. All the energy used for the transport sector is supplied only from fossil fuels.
A moment’s power failure in our electrical grid system can bring our lives to a grinding halt, which shows the energy dependency of our daily lives. This applies to our industries and commercial activities as well. The lifeblood of the modern economy is its energy supply. Therefore, the reliability, stability and sustainability of our energy supply is as important as its affordability.
The energy outlook of our nation is currently in a transitional stage. It is important that we navigate this transition to reduce our carbon footprint and increase our energy security. This can be achieved through a plan governed by a strategic policy and our collective effort.
National energy Policy and its objectives
Sri Lanka’s ‘National Energy Policy’ is a well formed strategy which ensures convenient and affordable energy services for the equitable development of Sri Lanka through a clean, safe, sustainable, reliable and economically feasible energy supply. This Policy is formulated in alignment with the future goals of Sri Lanka, current global trends in energy and the Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. This policy will impact the vast realm of social, economic and environmental spheres and pave the way to realize the vision of Sri Lanka in achieving carbon neutrality and complete transition of all the energy value chains by 2050.
Energy is said to be at a trilemma. Energy equity, energy sustainability and energy reliability, are at a constant battle with each other. Affordable energy is not always clean or reliable. Clean energy is neither cheap nor guaranteed to be reliable. To make the energy supply system reliable, we are compelled to make massive investments towards delivering energy through systems that are neither cheap not clean. We must maintain a balance between these three competing ends: equity, sustainability and reliability. Thousands of researchers in the energy sector and engineering research centers all over the world strive to innovate technologies to find the right balance between equity, sustainability and reliability of energy. Every energy policy in the world tries to strike their own balancing point. Our energy policy is no different and tries to balance these three ends through various strategies, such as streamlining our firewood supply, going green, reducing the intensity and increasing the efficiency of our transport energy.
It takes a tremendous effort to provide affordable and accessible energy, while maintaining high reliability. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals clearly recognize this trilemma, and have dedicated the seventh goal to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all”. Within our global order, positioning Sri Lanka in the global forum as an example of a country with a green energy supply is a top priority that we care very much about.
Our electricity sector plays a vital role as the energy streamliner and catalyzer. In modern Sri Lanka, all energy forms are expected to be converted to electricity and delivered to the point of consumption. This is not as simple as in any other country due to our massive 34% footprint of biomass.
The government’s manifesto ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’ has captured the gamut of this concept in a powerful manner to state that ‘Sri Lanka is ranked high among the countries with a large share of renewable energy, with a strong commitment to retain this vital attribute of the nation’s economic resilience in a world of diminishing energy security’. As proven by this global pandemic and its consequences, today it is evident now more than ever, that our energy security, energy reliability and energy sustainability defines our world.
What is our responsibility on economic use of energy
The real question is how we can achieve energy efficiency and sustainability as a nation.
Our individual responsibility and role in this area is similar to our function within a democracy. The Sri Lankan energy supply can only be affordable, reliable and sustainable if everybody can together strive to achieve it.
We can identify our energy use among four economic sectors: residential, commercial, transportation, and industrial. We rely on energy for lighting, heating or cooling of buildings, moving vehicles and freight, and manufacturing products. It is projected that Sri Lanka’s energy demand will increase by 5-6% annually. Minimizing energy waste and using energy as economically as possible is the responsibility of every citizen. While my colleagues and various energy professionals dedicate ourselves to improving these systems, it is also equally the responsibility of every individual energy consumer to contribute to this collective mission by ensuring careful and economical use of energy in their day to day life.
The National Day is a perfect moment to reflect on our values and appreciate how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change.
The leader adjusts the sails”
John Maxwell Let’s adjust the sails and lead this voyage.
EU funded SEDR Project launches Policy Brief to strengthen alternative dispute resolution in Sri Lanka
The Supporting Effective Dispute Resolution (SEDR) project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in partnership with The Asia Foundation, launched a Policy Brief titled ‘Strengthening A Just Alternative’ to strengthen community-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the country.
The launch event, held at the British Council Library in Colombo, was attended by several distinguished dignitaries, including Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Ms. Beatrice Bussi, (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Priyanath Perera, Secretary of the Mediation Boards Commission, Hon. Justice Yapa, Chairperson of the Mediation Boards Commission, and Commissioners of the Mediation Boards Commission.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Beatrice Bussi stated that “The importance of mediation in Sri Lanka is twofold, as it ensure an easy and economic access to justice to citizens, while it provides the opportunity to reduce the burden on the Sri Lankan court system. I want to praise the model of Sri Lankan community mediation boards, for its effectiveness and for the value it delivers to communities in addressing local disputes preventing their escalation”.
Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe stated ” One of the main tasks of the Ministry is to ensure the necessary legal, policy, and institutional framework is set up for efficient resolution of disputes. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, play a major role in this regard. There are different opinions regarding the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially mediation among the community and stakeholders. In the meantime, the Ministry has initiated a number of reforms to improve dispute resolution processes in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Ministry highlights the importance of surveys of this nature to facilitate evidence-based decision-making regarding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. As such the Ministry would like to congratulate the SEDR project on this successful initiative.”
The Policy Brief is based on the findings of a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey commissioned by SEDR and conducted by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in 2022. The survey aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of various community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including mediation boards. The survey covered six districts in the country, targeting 1,712 households of all three main ethnic groups.
COYLE urges government to engage business leaders in policy-making process for fair, sustainable, and economically sound decisions
The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) held its 24th Anniversary Celebrations on 10th March 2023, at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo. The event was attended by the chief guest, Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena; the guest of honour, U. S. Ambassador, Julie Chung; former President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena; Chief of the Defense Staff, General Shavendra Silva; cabinet and state ministers; parliamentarians; commanders of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces; government officials, and business leaders.
The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) comprises more than 116 prominent individuals who serve as Chairmen and Controlling Shareholders of some of the most influential companies in Sri Lanka.
It has over 500 member organizations and is affiliated with nearly 50 business chambers in the country. The organization is managed and controlled by young entrepreneurs but also boasts a number of senior and respected business leaders who joined the organization during its formative years to help shape COYLE into what it is today.
The Chamber actively promotes entrepreneurship, the development of rural communities, and thought leadership. In adherence to the organization’s strongly held principles and as a mandatory service to the community, COYLE engages in countless CSR initiatives through its member companies around the country. The Chamber provides leadership, learning, and development for its members and stakeholders, and over the years, it has grown into a vehicle for business growth in Sri Lanka via its many local and global networks.
The past year was an exceptionally challenging one for all parties in the Sri Lankan economy. Remarking on this, the Outgoing Chairman of COYLE, Mr. Dimuth Chankama Silva, stated during his address, “This year was the greatest test of our mettle. Even diamonds are born out of pressure. This year gave us the opportunity to shine through pressures from all directions. I believe we shone. We are here alive and kicking, our businesses are growing, we are conquering international markets and territories, and COYLE has grown in leaps and bounds.”
A notable emphasis was given to the introduction of the COYLE theme for the year 2023/24, EVOLUTION: #Resilience, #Agility, and #Transformation. The incoming Chairman, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha, stated, “Evolution is to upscale capability, enhance skills and increase creativity, innovate at a time of chaos, and re-imagine a new business environment. Evolution requires change: change in mindset, attitude, self-awareness, and acumen of the surrounding environment as well as culture.”
He went on to note that in today’s environment, every five years constitutes a generational gap and emphasized the need for COYLE to evolve as a chamber in order to be relevant and sustainable for the future. He further mentioned that decades of ill-conceived, politically driven policies based on the advocacy of a few, rather than consultative decision-making with recognized business chambers, have led to the current crisis. Elaborating on this point, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha said, “Policy formulation should be done based on sound economic principles and business acumen. Businesses rely on stable policies so that they may plan ahead. Ad hoc policies which bring no economic benefit have led to losses in the private sector and leakage of foreign exchange from the country.”
He emphasized that it is heartbreaking to see that the individuals who strive continuously for the betterment of the country and persistently do the right thing get penalized while those engaging in unethical practices to avoid taxation are rarely held accountable. COYLE hopes for more genuine dialogue from policymakers regarding these issues and affirms that the organization’s globally exposed and experienced members could be a great value addition to any actions taken to revive the economy. What sets COYLE apart from the rest is that its members are made up of business owners and decision-makers who are passionate about doing something good for the country, who are genuinely aligned with this cause, and willing to embrace the future without diluting our national and cultural heritage.
The 24th Anniversary Celebration of COYLE closely reflected in its overarching tone the state of the country following the Easter Bombings, the pandemic, and the economic and political crisis. The event also honored and recognized the Chamber’s numerous members who weathered the storm by building resilience, being agile, and transforming their businesses. It also highlighted the many CSR initiatives undertaken by COYLE member organizations, many of which were carried out quietly, purely as a service to the country.
These initiatives focus on communities most affected by the calamities of the past years and were chosen regardless of race, religion, or creed. With a host of esteemed and influential guests attending the celebrations, COYLE made this event a platform to convey a strong message calling for sociopolitical change in the country. COYLE believes that the hardline decisions taken by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, were tough but necessary considering the state of affairs. The Chamber also notes that as a result of these decisions, gradual change for the better is apparent in the economy. Considering the massive pool of collective experience, expertise, and connections held by COYLE, it is capable of providing significant value and insight for economic reform. Hence, COYLE urges the government to actively engage and work together with the Chamber to expedite economic revival.
Once again, AIA Ran for their Lives – proud sponsor for the 3rd consecutive year
AIA Insurance was humbled to be a part of Run For Their Lives 2023, in raising funds for the Apeksha Cancer Hospital. The charity run aligns with AIA’s brand purpose of helping people live healthier, longer, better lives with focus on the prevention and management of Non-Communicable Diseases in Sri Lanka. The company will continue its commitment to fight NCDs and actively engage in creating awareness on leading NCDs in the country.
With AIA’s goal of making a positive impact on one billion lives by 2030, participants at RFTL were encouraged to make a pledge for a healthy habit that could help prevent illness and remain healthy in the long run. The participants also took part in a real-time survey that measured their unhealthy habits and recommended healthy lifestyle habits. Participants were also instantly rewarded for taking part in the wellness games and the free BMI sessions organised by one of AIA’s wellness partner Vida Medical Clinic.
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