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Sri Lanka’s first-ever telethon

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Yes, the big day is drawing near when all eyes will be focused on TV sets, and social media, to take in Sri Lanka’s first-ever telethon.

We have had a variety of concerts, dubbed as fundraisers, for those who are battling the coronavirus pandemic, but this fundraiser is a musical event, with a difference.

A press conference is to be held, this evening (Tuesday 18th), to make known to the public the plans, mapped out for Saturday, August 29th, when ARISE SRI LANKA, featuring the cream of local talent, will move into top gear.

The purpose of this unique event is to raise funds for those in the frontline – the tri-forces, the police, doctors, nurses, the health authorities – doing a herculean task to keep the citizens of Sri Lanka safe from the deadly virus.

Richard de Zoysa, Chairman of Elite Promotions & Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd., is in the forefront, in this regard.

Says Richard: “The concert will be televised (live streaming) globally. And, the reason for this telethon concert is because I want the world to know how successful we have been in keeping Covid-19 under control.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing those people, who appreciate the work of our frontliners, showing their gratitude, by way of pledges.”

Richard indicated that anyone can donate whatever they can afford – even Rs. 10/= would be greatly appreciated, he added.

The pledges, and donations, can be made during the live streaming of ARISE SRI LANKA, from 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm, on Saturday, August 29th, said Richard.

 

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Renewable energy share in power generation – President misled by advisers

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Continued from yesterday

by Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri
PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPING
RE PROJECTS

In 2017, an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) has made a set of recommendations to the Cabinet to install in the short term several utility scale solar PV systems, wind energy systems and biomass energy systems, and these were approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. These projects included solar power projects comprising three large utility scale projects at Pooneryne (800 MW) and two sets at Syambalanduwa (2×100 MW) along with 300,000 roof top systems providing 300 MW and several small-scale systems each below 10 MW adding to 500 MW in places of high solar insolation. The building of a 100 MW floating solar PV system was previously approved by the Cabinet. These projects will add up to a total capacity of 1,900 MW which could generate about 3,329 GWh annually assuming 20 % plant factor. Cabinet approvals were granted on 16.12.2016 for building a Solar Power Park of capacity 100 MW in Siyambalaanduwa.

The CEB has already initiated development of a wind energy farm at Mannar and plans to develop more in the Jaffna district. A total capacity of 650 MW is to be developed generating nearly 1,708 GWh of electricity. In addition, a SLSEA Report dated 27.03.2019, says that several proposals for developing RE projects submitted since 2016 by investors received the approval of the SLSEA, but these have been held up as the CEB has not agreed to sign the necessary power purchase agreements with them, on grounds that that they were not selected after calling tenders as required in the Electricity Act. These projects held back by the CEB were expected to add 3,052 MW of RE capacity generating 6,923 GWh of energy annually, comprising 925 GWh from mini-hydro plants, 3553 GWh from solar plants, 2063 GWh from wind plants, 237 GWh from biomass plants and 145 GWh from waste-to-energy plants.

Section 13 of the Electricity Act says “requirement to submit a tender on the publication of a notice under this subsection shall not be applicable in respect of any new generation plant or to the expansion of any existing generation plant that is being developed on a permit issued by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, established by the Sustainable Energy Authority Act, No. 35 of 2007 under section 18 of that Act for the generation of electricity through renewable energy sources and required to be operated at the standardized tariff and is governed by a Standardized Power Purchase Agreement approved by the Cabinet of Ministers or on an offer received from a foreign sovereign Government to the Government of Sri Lanka, for which the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers has been obtained”. Hence, denial of approval by the CEB for RE projects for which permits have been issued by SLSEA is a misinterpretation of the Act. The President has given clear instructions that such barriers against the private sector involving in developing RE projects be removed.

A summary of the above RE projects that could be developed by 2030 long with the commissioned and permitted RE projects are shown in Table 5.

It is seen that the total generation potential from RE sources including those already installed, projects for which permits have been issued, utility scale projects approved by the Cabinet and projects permitted by the SLSEA and awaiting acceptance by the CEB add up to 15,026 GWh annually. This is 4,670 GWh short of the generation required from RE sources to reach the target of 80%, which is 20,500 GWh as shown in Table 4. This can be achieved by installing additional solar PV plants, wind power plants and biomass plants, with generation shared among them each share depending on the availability of resources and economies.

POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPING
RE PROJECTS

Sri Lanka has a large number of reservoirs both ancient and recently built covering an area about 43,000 ha in the North Central and Eastern Provinces where the solar insolation is high (Arjuna Atlas). Since solar PV panels require about 1 ha for every 1 MW of installed capacity, installation of solar panels covering at least 10% of the area of the reservoirs has the potential to generate about 7,000 GWh of electricity annually from 4,000 MW of installed capacity. This could be achieved with the concurrence of the Irrigation Department (ID).

An all island Wind Energy Resource Atlas of Sri Lanka was developed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of USA in 2003, indicates nearly 5,000 km2 of windy areas with good-to-excellent wind resource potential in Sri Lanka. About 4,100 km2 of the total windy area is on land and about 700 km2 is in lagoons. The windy land represents about 6% of the total land area (65,600 km2) of Sri Lanka. Using a conservative assumption of 5 MW per km2, this windy land could support almost 20,000 MW of potential installed capacity (SLSEA Website). 

Last year, the Cabinet declared 2022 as the year of Biomass Energy with the objective of promoting energy generation from biomass. Already, SLSEA is pursuing a project funded partly by UNDP and FAO for “Promoting Sustainable Biomass Energy Production and Modern Bio-Energy Technologies” with the specific objective of removing obstacles to the realization of sustainable biomass plantation, increase of market share of biomass energy generation. Currently, a survey is being undertaken to identify land available and suitable for energy plantations. It is expected that by 2030, biomass technologies could add about 500 GWh of energy to the system.

It is clear therefore that Sri Lanka has the resources to develop RE projects exceeding the amount required to meet the 80% share in total electricity generation by 2030. Coordination and cooperation among stakeholder institutes such as CEB, SLSEA and ID are prerequisites for realizing this target.

FINANCIAL BARRIERS AGAINST
ACHIEVING THE TARGETS

It may be recalled that in 2015, nations adopted the Paris Agreement at the Climate Change Summit Conference held in Paris, undertaking voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to global warming and in turn causing climate change. Concurrently, the Conference announced that “developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement”. Though the Cabinet has taken a decision to build 650 MW of wind power plants and 1,900 MW of solar power plants in 2017, there has been no progress possibly due to lack of finances or investors for implementing the projects.

The easiest way of reducing GHG emissions is to shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources for the generation of energy. Hence, it is possible to get financial assistance from various financial mechanisms set up under the Climate Change Convention (CCC) to defray costs incurred in shifting to renewable energy sources, for which proposals need to be submitted to the CCC Secretariat through the Ministry of Environment who is the focal point for CCC in Sri Lanka. It is the writer’s understanding that Sri Lanka has not sought any financial assistance from these sources.

As a side event at the CCC held in Paris in 2015, a programme called the International Solar Alliance (ISA), was launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on November 30, 2015, with the objective of scaling up solar energy applications, reducing the cost of solar power generation through aggregation of demand for solar finance, technologies, innovation, research and development, and capacity building. The ISA aims to pave the way for future solar generation, storage and technologies for member countries’ needs by mobilizing over USD 1000 billion by 2030, according to the India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) website (https://mnre.gov.in/isa/). Sri Lanka is also a signatory to the agreement signed at the launching ceremony.

It was reported in the Sunday Island of 26.07.2020 that India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd has offered to set up a solar energy park in Sri Lanka under the aegis of ISA. Being a member of ISA, Sri Lanka should welcome India’s offer to build a solar park in Sri Lanka under ISA. Under the terms of ISA, India only facilitates sourcing of funding and services and the host country has the ownership for the project, who is required to do the preliminary ground work to seek funding. According to a reliable source, the CEB is not keen in pursuing this offer as it is not a tendered project. However, there is provision in the Act as shown above to accept this offer if it is deemed to be a project offered by the Government of India which it is. This again is a misinterpretation of the Act.

PROBLEMS FACING IN EXPANSION
OF RE SYSTEMS

When more and more RE systems are built, their integration into the national grid may pose some problems. One is the rapid variation of the output of solar and wind systems. With the development of software that could forecast these variations on-line, it is possible to increase the penetration of RE systems into the grid. If necessary, CEB may acquire this technology from any foreign country who has already implemented high penetration of RE into their system. It is also important that all solar and wind plants strictly conform to specifications, particularly in respect of voltage and harmonics control.

Another is the need for storage for saving the electricity generated during the daytime by solar systems for use at night time. There are several options for this too, among which are using high capacity batteries, build pump-storage reservoirs and generate hydrogen from day-time power.

A report by JICA on Electricity Sector Master Plan Study in Sri Lanka released in March, 2018 considered the option of generation with 100% renewable energy sources by 2040, recommending that to meet the deficit of power arising out of continuing high cloud cover for several days, storage batteries need to be installed at an estimated cost of USD 1,000 million which may have life-time of only 5 years.

Another JICA report on Development Planning on Optimal Power Generation for Peak Demand in Sri Lanka released in February 2015 considered building a pump-storage system with capacity 600 MW on Maha Oya near Aranayaka with a head of about 500 m at a cost of USD 700 million. This is also included in the CEB Plan.

However, another option that could be implemented without incurring any additional costs is to utilize the existing hydropower reservoirs where energy generated by solar systems could be stored. This is by avoiding generation of hydro power by an amount equivalent to that generated by solar systems during daytime. This saved hydro power is then available for using during night time (see article by Chandre Dharmawardana in The Island of 15.07.2020). The saved energy will get enhanced due to prevention of evaporation when the reservoirs are covered with solar panels.

There is much interest among developed countries to use hydrogen as an energy carrier and for storage. In a report published by CSIRO in Australia on National Hydrogen Roadmap in 2018, the possibility of generating hydrogen utilizing Australia’s vast potential for RE for both local application and for export was considered. Hydrogen systems can provide both electricity grid stability (i.e. seconds to hourly storage) and grid reliability (i.e. seasonal storage) services. Hydrogen generated from stand-alone solar and wind plants along with fuel cells can be used to generate electricity as and when necessary.

A third problem often cited by CEB is the lack of capacity of the transmission system to accommodate energy generated by RE systems as planned. According to the CEB, installing more than 20 MW of wind capacity in any given region may adversely impact local grid stability and power quality (NREL Study, 2003). This problem could be solved by improving the substations in outstations and increasing the capacity of transmission lines connected to them.

It was shown in Table 4 that in order to achieve 80% of generation from RE sources, it is necessary to deviate from the CEB’s LTGE Plan as shown in Table 4. However, the 2013 Electricity Act requires that any addition of capacity should be done while meeting the requirements of the CEB LTGE Plan. Hence, either the CEB Plan needs to be revised or the Act needs to be amended. Otherwise, the CEB may not consider implementing the adjusted scenario even though it meets the President’s policy.

CONCLUSION

With the existing and permitted RE projects along with those approved by the Cabinet and SLSEA, it will be possible to generate electricity 4,600 GWh short of the amount required to meet the target of 80% of generation from RE sources. This amount could easily be generated from a combination of solar, wind and biomass systems. Hence, there is absolutely no need to revise the President’s target of 80% to 70% as decided at the meeting held on 14.09.2020.

It is also essential to explore the possibilities of sourcing funds for adopting RE sources in place of fossil fuels which are available internationally because of the saving of GHG emissions. This will reduce the country’s burden on financing the RE projects. Perhaps it is time the President gets advisers with commitment to green energy who will give him the correct advice. It is a pity that when there is political will it is absent among the professionals concerned.

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Cattle slaughter ban and common sense 

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By Rohana R. Wasala

Continued from yesterday

Desperate times call for desperate measures. For all communities in general who make Sri Lanka their home, and for the majority community in particular, these are desperate times indeed. However, cattle slaughter is not one of the burning problems that make the times desperate for them. There are much more serious problems they are faced with such as the menacing, so-called MMC Compact, the deleterious Yahapalana constitutional legacy – 19A – that prevents the executive and the legislature from readily restoring the democracy,the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law and  the communal harmony that it effectively destroyed, the inevitable Covid-19 related economic consequences in the form of devastating blows on large income generating sources such as the tourism based hospitality industry and skilled and unskilled foreign employment, disruption of domestic industries due to mandatory lockdowns, social distancing, and other health restrictions imposed on physical movements in order to meet the pandemic emergency, all leading to the new administration’s dedicated attempts to eliminate the drug menace and other forms of crime and corruption even more challenging and even more difficult than they are. 

Don’t the Ven. Mahanayake monks  and leading lay Buddhists have to devote their attention to barefaced threats to the Buddha Sasana both within it and outside of it, such as bogus Arhants explaining the Dhamma in idiosyncratic ways that confuse the average Buddhists with little education in the philosophy of Buddhism (the majority) for whom it is a religion like any other, and even egg them on towards faiths that look more promising to them; disguised non-Buddhist men and women in yellow robes  spreading superstitious beliefs and practices under the label of Buddhism; proselytising preachers and faith healers misappropriating Buddhist symbols to enmesh credulous innocent Buddhists in their superstitions; some truly ignorant or viciously ill-meaning You Tubers circulating the patent myth that Gautama Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment, and preached the Dhamma in Sri Lanka, ignoring the abundance of established historical evidence that proves that he was indeed from the subcontinent, and making money by turning out videos that feature illiterate ‘scholars’ who save their skin by hiding behind the hypocritical slogan ‘Here is the evidence. Believe it or leave it’, but they adduce only fake evidence. The Buddhist leaders must put their own house in order before driving our beleaguered nation into further crisis by trying to reform the world.

It is not that the monks and lay Buddhists who are agitating for a ban on cattle slaughter have forgotten what they can learn in this regard from the Buddha Gautama’s own policy of not forcing morality on people, but of helping them adopt moral behaviour by understanding evil as evil and good as good through self realization as illustrated in  the story about Chunda Sukara/Sukarika (Chunda the pig killer/keeper/professional pork seller). This pig keeper slaughtered his pigs after torturing them in unimaginably cruel ways. And he was a neighbour of the great sage. But he never responded to his teaching of avihimsa and eventually died a wretched death, unreformed.

Perhaps we can learn something from India in this regard. According to the Wikipedia, India  (pop.1.3 billion) is nearly 80% Hindu (with 14% Muslim, and 6% others). Beef eating is generally taboo for Hindus. It’s been estimated that the number of vegetarians in India equals the number of vegetarians in the rest of the world put together. But it seems to adopt a relaxed attitude towards cattle slaughter. The law governing cattle slaughter varies from state to state, and is flexible in some states. “On 26 May 2017, the Ministry of Environment of the Government of India led by Bharatiya Janata Party imposed a ban on the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across India, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals statutes, although Supreme Court of India suspended the ban on sale of cattle in its judgement in July 2017, giving relief to beef and leather industries”. So, the cattle slaughter ban in India was made ineffective even before it was hardly implemented.

No doubt, this was a disappointment to prime minister Modi, his BJP, and others who supported the ban. It is no less so, it is interesting to learn, to most Muslims of India as well. Researchers Naghmar Sahar and Rashid Kidwai of the Observer Research Foundation of India say: “The majority of Muslim leadership in India has, all along, been always in favour of a nationwide ban on cow slaughter, but somehow successive regimes have refrained from banning it” (India Matters/Aug. 12, 2019/ ‘A century of giving up beef: Muslims demand nationwide ban on cow slaughter’). Muslims have been making this demand in deference to Hindu sentiment, in the interest of peaceful coexistence with Hindus. The useful lesson in common sense we can learn from India’s experience with cattle slaughter banning is too obvious to need explaining. 

Can’t the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians who disapprove of cattle slaughter think of an easier and more efficient way to minimise it (as eliminating it is impossible) than trying to impose unenforceable legislation to completely ban cattle slaughter? Just stop eating beef!

Concluded

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Murderers or Dual citizens?

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I wrote a piece the other day about dual citizens in Parliament. My bias was towards letting them in for various reasons that I detailed. The responses were so varied and so interesting that I thought I would share them. Around 70% of those who wrote to me seemed to agree that Dual citizens with their experience, discipline and real-world conditioning would contribute positively. However, there was a good 30% who disagreed.

The arguments of the dissenters ranged from abuse to racism to negative values. I even had an insinuation that I was a spin doctor, running a spin for the Government. That one hurt the most! We had people say that Dual citizens were opportunists and shysters who if allowed in to parliament would only lead the country down that path. Excuse me! We don’t have those in the house already and is there any opportunistic, money grabbing unprincipled path left for our people to be led down? There was a Tamillian who wrote saying what would you do if Indian dual citizens came and tried to get into parliament? For Goodness sake! Does India allow dual citizens and even if they do how would that matter at all, or WOULD IT? There were a whole lot of value statements from fine upstanding citizens of the Pearl, citizens who have stood by silently watching decades of ruin, saying how their wonderful values and precious culture would be degraded by those with foreign values and standards. The most awesome one of all was how those who had pledged allegiance to another flag would have divided loyalties! Firstly, what is “pledging loyalty”, is it standing in some room and taking an oath (which is the maximum required) or just going to a crowded hall, singing or lip synching a national anthem and collecting your certificate (which is much more common)? So, what is binding about that? How on earth does it compromise your behaviour in any way? What is to stop you from being disloyal to a country? What do spies and those networking with diplomats gathering information do that is different ?

There were those who said that if you wanted to get into parliament you should renounce your dual citizenship like our current fearless leader has done. Do you think anyone but a raving lunatic would not leave the option open to return to another country if they had it, and come and work in the Pearl, after what has been done to the last few people who tried to give a hand? I won’t name names, I will let you think about that O revered readers. Let alone this, the Pearl is in such utter and hopeless shambles that not even the most qualified, genius in this world would undertake a task with any level of confidence or certainty of success. In those circumstances, what do you do when those who enticed you to come and try, pretend they don’t know you and consign you to the sharks when the hopeless task ends in disaster? Advocating jumping into a cesspit to try and clear a block with no means of getting out, when you have a means, is what those esteemed readers are telling people to do. To each his own they say.

The most fascinating thing about some of the replies was that they were longer than what I had written in the first place! I try to stick to around 1000 words per column. Most of those classic literary works exceeded that meagre amount by a huge margin. They could have proudly occupied the centrefold of a newspaper. A foray into psychology makes one wonder why those people don’t write direct to the editor, is it because they don’t wish to disclose their identity and hide behind the anonymity of the internet or is it due to a lack of self-confidence …?

Anyway, why is this a debate at all? The esteemed house of representatives of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has sworn in a convicted murderer as an MP. Now does this mean that a dual citizen of another country is automatically classed as having committed something more than a capital crime? The Pearl has hit the headlines all over the world for another spectacular achievement! What’s more the “highly literate” population voted this man in. Holy c…! This really defies any further comment. Does it also mean that not a single member of the overcrowded house of representatives has enough self-respect to RESIGN and say that he or she doesn’t want to be classed as a criminal by association? This action or inaction as the case may be, finally allows me to “rest my case” and be assured of victory when I say that not one single member of parliament is worth her or his salt.

Can I move on to another favourite subject of mine, the decimation of the UNP. I read the other day that another nephew has been lined up to be groomed for leadership of the Uncle Nephew Party. What utter rubbish! Don’t the people who make these decisions realize that actions of this nature are what have led to the destruction of the party? Or on the other hand has the wily fox set somebody up for the high jump? Tell you what, having watched the man in action, I would be very careful if I was the chosen nephew.

I say give the leadership to someone else. Preferably, someone from outside the party. Someone with a proven track record of leadership and ability to organize a team and instil the will to win. How about one of two people in the whole of the Pearl who has a world class achievement under their belt? We have one person who won the Cricket World Cup and another who has destroyed one of the most powerful terrorist networks of his time. What are these people doing now? They are largely ignored and not given any sort of recognition by the very people who vote murderers into parliament and make howls of protest when dual citizens are considered for high office.

Give the UNP to the Field Marshall I say, if he is interested, and make sure that Captain Cool is his deputy. Then at last we may have a future for our beloved ex pearl of the Indian Ocean. A future with a home-grown leadership and no requirement for dual citizens. The type of leadership that may even cause a brain drain in reverse, like what is happening in Aotearoa at present.

The real estate market is going berserk by all accounts in Aotearoa. Many expatriates who have been doing highly paid jobs are coming back. They are buying houses on line, without even physically looking at them. Could be due to control of Covid-19 in NZ and the current level of communications that allow anyone to work from almost anywhere? However, there must be at least a modicum of belief in the governance of the country and the direction we are being steered in. This is home grown leadership and from people who do not have even the semblance of the track record and achievements that the aforementioned gentlemen from the Pearl have.

No, we don’t recognize achievements in the Pearl, do we? We admire thuggery and accept allegiance and oaths of loyalty from convicted murderers.

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