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.
National Trade Facilitation Committee Secretariat to be established
In an effort to accelerate trade facilitation commitments and bolster the business landscape in Sri Lanka, a high-level review of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) was conducted at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday (7).
The review focused on assessing the progress of trade facilitation commitments and scrutinizing the performance of the NTFC Secretariat. The private sector also voiced their views on expediting actions to ensure the completion of measures ahead of the projected timeline of 2025-2030.
In order to streamline compliance and optimize performance, several directives were issued during the meeting. Firstly, it was decided to establish the NTFC Secretariat under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. Secondly, immediate measures to be taken to address the staffing requirements of the Secretariat and lastly, the budget allocated for the NTFC Secretariat in 2023, currently under the Department of Customs, was to be transferred to the Ministry of Finance to prioritize pending actions such as the development of the NTFC website and progress reporting system.
During the meeting, deliberations took place concerning the proposed National Single Window, a system aimed at simplifying and expediting trade processes. The participants agreed to expedite the submission of the proposal in a sequential manner to ensure its swift implementation.
PM discusses ADB future projects in Sri Lanka with ADB DG and new Country Director
Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Director General for South Asia Kenichi Yokoyama and newly appointed Country Director Takafumi Kadono held discussions with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Thursday (June 8) at the Temple Trees in Colombo.
The Prime Minister, while welcoming the new Director General thanked the outgoing DG, Chen Chen for the support extended to Sri Lanka during the height of Covid pandemic and the economic crisis. He thanked the ADB for extending short term, immediate contingency support which has helped Sri Lankan economy to recover from the unprecedented crisis within a short period of time. ADB loan funds amounting to USD 380 mn were targeted for enhancing fiscal space and efficient public financial management system as well as strengthening the SME sector with access to finance. Further USD 250 mn was obtained as budgetary support to develop Capital Market.
The Prime Minister made a special mention about ADB’s US$ 333 million emergency assistance to support import of essential items such as fertilizer, medicines and chemicals for water treatment, working capital support to SMEs, and cash transfer to most poor and vulnerable to mitigate the impact of economic crisis.
ADB Director General for South Asia Keinichi Yokohoma, praised the recovery made by Sri Lankan economy and briefed the Prime Minister about the ADB’s mid-term and long-term projects for economic progress and infrastructure development.
ADB provides Sri Lanka access to concessional financing to facilitate sustained and inclusive recovery
Low interest -rate financing broadens country’s options to bridge urgent development financing needs
ADB support now comes in concessional and market-based financing, technical assistance, policy advice, and knowledge solutions
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the eligibility of Sri Lanka to access concessional financing. The availability of concessional assistance, offered at low interest rates, broadens Sri Lanka’s options to bridge its urgent development financing needs to restore economic stability and deliver essential services, particularly to the poor and vulnerable.
Eligibility for concessional resources among the developing member countries of ADB is based on gross national income per capita and creditworthiness. ADB’s decision was considered based on a request from the Government of Sri Lanka in view of the severe and unprecedented economic crisis that has reversed hard-won development gains.
“ADB is committed to further enhancing its support for the people of Sri Lanka as the country responds to this deep crisis that has severely undermined their livelihoods and well-being,” said ADB Director General for South Asia Kenichi Yokoyama. “The availability of concessional assistance will help Sri Lanka to lay the foundation for economic recovery and sustained, inclusive growth.”
Sri Lanka is now eligible for ADB support including concessional and market-based financing, technical assistance, policy advice, and knowledge solutions that together comprise a comprehensive suite of options to address the crisis. Access to concessional financing will also ease debt servicing pressures through more favorable lending terms.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
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