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The Darker Side and the Light at the end of the Energy Tunnel



Eng Parakrama Jayasinghe

Those of us who were hoping for some sanity to emerge in the energy sector were given a severe jolt on Dec. 15 on reading the press release from the Presidential Secretariat, presumably after the Presidents meeting with the Ministers and senior officials of the energy sector. This stated that His Excellency had given instructions to develop action plans to achieve the target of 70% contribution to the electricity sector by 2030 using Hydro, Solar Wind and LNG resources.

This was indeed a shock, as this portends an attempt to constrain the space available for the future development of true renewable energy, thus scuttling the President’s declared target.

Fortunately, good sense has prevailed and an amended press release appeared next day without the reference to LNG as part of the 70% R E Target by 2030. It is also a matter of comfort to listen to the recordings of the above meeting, where the president was very clear in his instructions citing only Hydro, Wind and Solar as the renewable energy sources. But it is a matter of concern to us why Bio Energy which has none of the impediments of Solar and Wind, but has multiple spin off benefits, and has all the attributes of a source of firm power available 24/7 throughout the year, continues to be ignored. Fortunately there is an interest to accelerate the implementation of the many stalled renewable energy projects, thus setting the country on the correct path.


Role and Acceptability of LNG

Natural Gas is certainly not a renewable energy resource. But is it a “Clean” source of energy? Certainly it is a lot “Cleaner” than both coal and oil and is free from some most toxic components such as sulfur, lead, mercury and a plethora of heavy metals and radioactive nucleoids present in coal. But it will certainly emit

* 50% of carbon emissions compared to Coal not zero carbon as in case of Solar and Wind

* Significant amounts of Oxides of Nitrogen

* Potential fugitive emissions of Methane prior to combustion which is 23 time more potent than Carbon Dioxide.

In Sri Lanka’s context, what is even more important is the fact it is an imported resource subject to the vagaries of price fluctuations and the parity rate of exchange, continuing to compromise our energy security. LNG is the lesser evil, and in the light of the CEBs reluctance accept the vast strides in technology which has made it possible for both wind and solar to be upgraded to firm sources of electricity generation, and due to the lack of any significant additions to the generation capacity for over five years, limited use of Natural Gas may have to be viewed as an interim option.

Questions Needing Urgent Answers

However, a very severe uncertainty of the source and the means of supplying the LNG necessary to operate the 300 MW LNG plant remains unresolved, and appears to be ignored, according to the information available to the general public. Sri Lanka escaped a potential disaster by not proceeding with an unsolicited proposal to set up a Floating Storage and Re-gasification Unit (FSRU) and a contract to supply LNG for 20 years on terms totally disadvantageous to us. But the million dollar questions remains unanswered:

1. What is the means of supplying LNG to the proposed 300 MW power plant at Kerawalapitiya?

2. Under whose control will such supplies, presumably from an FSRU operate, and which is the location chosen?

3. If the gas supplies are not available by the time the power plant is commissioned, will the plant be operated with diesel or some other oil and for how long?

4. What will be the extra cost of using such alternate fuels and who will bear the extra cost above the tendered price of Rs 14.85 per unit?

5. In the absence of any plans of resolving such issues, is the government still pursuing options for more LNG plants with India and Japan and now with the USA?

With such a plethora of unanswered questions, even assuming that Sri Lanka will be obliged to proceed with the first 300 MW LNG plant, at least as a means of avoiding any more ruinous emergency power options, isn’t it time to take a very close look at the need or the justification for any further use of LNG ?

As usual Sri Lanka has missed the bus in this instance too. If the first LNG plant was initiated and a viable means of supplying the LNG was initiated in 2016, we could have avoided depending on emergency power for at least two years up to now, and it would have improved the space for greater level of integration of Solar and Wind to the national grid and the consequent reduction of the huge losses incurred by the CEB annually.


Hope for the Future

But on a happier note, the world did not stand still, and technologies are now available to iron out variability and seasonal and diurnal nature of wind and solar energy . For example the State Minister is keen to launch the 100 MW Solar park at Siyambalanduwa and a further 100 MW of solar and 150 MW of wind power in Pooneryn very early. It is very likely that all these projects will generate electricity at costs less than Rs 10.00 per unit. Therefore the addition of adequate battery storage is feasible to at least serve the peak loads as well as to make them sources of firm power. The resultant cost may not surpass the Rs 14.85 per unit expected from the LNG plant.


A place for Prosumers and Electricity as a National Industry

In addition the innovative program of State Minister Duminda Dissanayake to provide 5 kW rooftop solar systems to 100,000 Samurdhi recipients without burdening the treasury is a major paradigm shift in the electricity sector whereby the smallest level of consumer becomes a generator of electricity for his own consumption with a significant surplus and thus becomes a PROSUMER whereby the Electricity Industry becomes a contributor to the GDP instead of being a mere facility for other sectors to grow. With a total of 1.6 Million Samurdhi recipients, the future potential for growth of this program is immense

As a further step in this direction the program to install micro Solar Parks of 100 kW linked to 10,000 distribution transformers will make the Electricity generation a national industry adding further to the GDP. These two programs would add 1,500 MW of Solar PV and create vast employment opportunities.

We earnestly request Minster Dulles Alahapperuma and State Minister Duminda Dissanayake to very seriously evaluate this possibility. This will enable the president to plan for the next goal of 100 % RE

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Bull run on CSE acquires further momentum



“Market’s gone crazy, when will the bubble burst?”, asks broker

The mind-boggling on the Colombo Stock Exchange which on Friday drove the benchmark All Share Price Index up by 291.34 points – “perhaps the biggest ever single day gain,” a broker said, has left brokers, market players and investors stunned.

“The market’s gone crazy,” a leading broker said requesting anonymity. “It’s an ever-growing bubble and nobody can say when it will burst. It is difficult to sustain this kind of momentum without foreign and institutional buying.”

Mr. Niroshan Wijesundera, the head of marketing at the CSE, said that Friday’s peak of the ASPI had fallen a little short of the highest ever 7,811 achieved on Feb. 14, 2011.

But brokers speaking from memory reckoned that the Rs. 12.46 billion turnover was among the highest ever achieved without special transactions like takeovers etc. done on the trading floor.

While some analysts said that the bull run was without any scientific basis, Wijesundera said it was largely retail driven.

“The very low prevailing interest rates would have influenced fund movement to the stock market,” he said. “Also, global markets are moving up.”

Brokers said that that Friday’s upward momentum was fueled largely by the LOLC and Hayleys groups with LOLC Holdings which has been moving up for the past several days seeing its share price up Rs. 45.25 from the previous close with over 5.64 million shares traded traded. The counter generated a turnover of Rs. 1.17 billion.

LOLC is controlled by its deputy chairman, Ishara Nanayakkara and related parties, while Hayleys is controlled by Dhammika Perera. Although LOLC has paid no dividends since 2012, shareholders have been compensated with capital appreciation of its shares. The group was involved in a mega international deal last year, selling its 70% stake in Cambodia’s leading micro-finance company for Rs. 120 billion.

Haycarb, the activated carbon manufacturing subsidiary of Hayleys, saw its share gaining 72.75 to close at Rs. 757.75 on 218,609 shares traded between Rs. 685 and Rs. 737 through 479 transactions. Hayleys itself was up Rs. 21 to Rs. 491.25 and Dipped Products up Rs. 19.75 to close at Rs. 401.25 on 1.83 million shares transacted 1,157 trades.



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Stafford Motors starts their two-wheeler recon. operations



Covid-19 outbreak has majorly affected the transportation sector in the country as people are more reluctant to use public transportation modes. As to provide a safer day today transportation to their devoted customers, the Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd has taken a step forward to deliver Honda two-wheelers engraved with trust and confidence.

The company has taken the initiative to offer Stafford certified reconditioned two wheelers to their valued customers in order to continue their services even during the ongoing import restrictions. The company is purchasing used two-wheelers and then a series of inspections with a condition check is conducted before they taken it into their re-conditioned two wheeler operations. Mainly, the Mechanical faults are addressed by experienced and skilled technical experts and the required parts are replaced with Honda genuine spares which enhances the functionality and reliability of the unit. The main aim of the company is to offer a Honda two-wheeler under the renowned name of Stafford Motors with certified Quality and deliver their two-wheelers for a reasonable price to its loyal customers while purchasing can be done by cash or lease. A warranty period of three months or 3000 km is provided with these reconditioned Two- wheelers certified by the company. Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd is ready to provide a trade-in offer for their loyal customers which will allow them to exchange their current Honda two-wheeler and upgrade it to a Stafford Certified brand new looking two wheeler.

Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd. being the sole distributor of world renowned Honda products in Sri Lanka is the best place to purchase a re-conditioned two-wheeler as it is always at the forefront of the two-wheeler market by understanding the needs of the customers while offering the best products with the highest quality for past 40 years.

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LOLC General Insurance looking at expanding into potential international markets



With LOLC expanding into many markets in Asia and Africa, LOLC General Insurance is also optimistic of expanding insurance services and products to several selected and potential international markets in the near future, says Kithsiri Gunawardena, CEO of LOLC General Insurance,.

“LOLC Group has a very strong and highly respected brand presence in all the markets we operate. In some of these markets, the Insurance industry is in the early stages of development. Thus, the regulators are keen on the introduction of micro insurance products to support small and medium scale businesses for systemic stability”, he said.

LOLC General Insurance, a fully-owned subsidiary of the LOLC Group recently became Sri Lanka’s first General Insurance company to achieve Rs. 6 Billion Gross Written Premium (GWP) in less than 10 years.

The company reached the Rs. 6 Billion mark in December 2020, becoming the fastest General Insurance company to achieve this milestone in the industry.

“LOLC General Insurance is a young company compared to the rest in the industry. During the last few years, we continuously streamlined the processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company. The entire staff was motivated to work as one team and embark on a customer centric approach. A scheme was introduced whereby a pre-designated percentage of the company profits are shared with our staff thereby elevating them to become true stakeholders of our business”, Gunawardena noted.

“We also critically analyzed our expenses and introduced mechanisms to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. The combination of these measures and our aggressive sales model supported by the commitment of our team resulted in the company being able to secure a substantial volume of new business outside of the group reflecting that we are well aligned to the needs of the market”, the CEO said.

With a service first mind-set and the strong backing of the LOLC Group, LOLC General Insurance became the fastest growing Insurer in the industry with the highest growth in Motor as well as Non-Motor portfolios. This achievement was also made possible by the trust and confidence placed in the company by customers throughout the country as well as the indispensable contribution made by our staff, he outlined.

The aggressive approach in sales, flexibility in policy options and a customer centric product portfolio has enabled this growth over the years. The company hopes to maintain the same focus, approach and excellence in the years ahead to sustain this growth momentum, Gunawardena further said.

He said the year 2020 was probably the most challenging for most businesses in the country and the insurance industry recorded a negative growth. Interestingly, LOLC General Insurance managed to record its best performance during this year. Although external operating conditions remained challenging, the General Insurance business performed steadily, he added.

“Most disruptions create opportunities and we capitalised on becoming even more aggressive when most others opted to be cautious. By December 2020, we were able to reach the Rs. 6 Bn mark mainly because of the commitment of our team who were always geared and motivated to offer uninterrupted services to the customers even during the pandemic”, he continued.

The aggressive business model, highly motivated and loyal staff, passionate leadership, unstinted reputation within the market on service quality and last but not least the strong backing of the LOLC Group is what makes us stand apart, Gunawardena stressed.

The opportunities are immense in the market. With a saturated Motor market and the challenge of limited new registrations for the foreseeable future, the price and service will be key in this sphere. The Non-Motor market is noticeably under-penetrated and this gives LOLC General Insurance opportunities to grow with our unique products and services to customers, he said.

On future expansion plans, he noted that 2021 will see innovations in terms of customer engagement with respect to digital transformation as well as unique product ranges and service standards being introduced. By locating branches strategically, the company is enhancing customer convenience.

“Our focus on accomplishing full automation remains strong with the entire process automated end-to-end, from meeting the customer to the point of delivery while policy servicing is achieved via technology platforms. The country-wide reach will be enhanced with the formation of new regions/branches and close to 70 dedicated service points being established”, Gunawardena emphasized.

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