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

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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

E Mail parajayasingle@gmail.com



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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