Renewable resources renew Sri Lanka | Daily News


 

Renewable resources renew Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) of the Power and Energy Ministry is the focal National institute responsible for implementing renewable energy development programmes in the country. The SLSEA was established on October 1, 2007.

An initial target was set to achieve 10 percent of the electricity generation using renewable energy sources by 2015. This target was realized and it was a remarkable milestone in the renewable energy development in the country. The SLSEA has been able to maintain this renewable energy share in electricity generation and the total renewable energy capacity addition by 2020 is given below.

(Table 1: Total renewable energy capacity addition by 2020)

SLSEA Director General Dr. Asanka Rodrigo told the Daily News that renewable energy development brings about a multitude of benefits to the country. Primarily, Sri Lanka does not have proven petroleum energy resources, and therefore the country incurs a huge amount of foreign exchange expenditure for energy resource imports. So, it makes a direct impact on the overall economy. In order to reduce this foreign exchange expenditure, it is required to go for indigenous energy resources.

“By enhancing the renewable energy-based electricity generation capacity, Sri Lanka can increase the indigenous energy share, and it is one of the most welcoming benefits to the country. Enhancing energy security is a key aspect to be looked at in the development of energy sector, and the increase of indigenous energy share will inevitably contribute to enhancing the energy security of the country,” he said.

The SLSEA is currently taking measures to launch streamlined programmes in renewable energy development in the background mentioned above. Accordingly, steps are being taken to identify suitable lands for the development of different renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biomass in different parts of the country. Scrublands belonging to the Government that are not suitable for agricultural and other purposes are expected to be utilized for this, and the identification of lands for the particular purpose will be done accordingly. This programme will be initiated from the North-Central Province and discussions are going on with the relevant authorities. The SLSEA expects this intervention will be fruitful in line with establishing a sound framework for the development of renewable energy in Sri Lanka.

Climate change is one of the most serious issues faced by the world at present. A large use of petroleum resources for energy generation has greatly attributed to this through the release of carbon dioxide, which is one of the gases responsible for the global climate change issue, referred to as Green House Gases (GHG). There has been high global attention on reducing GHG emission in various development processes.

Since the 1990s, a global move led by the United Nations has made efforts to combat this situation through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC held in Paris in 2015, many countries agreed to make their contributions in the reduction of GHG emissions. This is termed as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Sri Lanka has also ratified this convention, and the energy sector has to make a 20 percent reduction in the GHG emissions in the energy sector during the period 2020–2030. So, in order to meet this challenge, conventional electricity generation has to be replaced with more renewable energy-based power generation.

Apart from the direct contribution in energy generation to the economy, there are additional indirect benefits to the economy in increasing renewable energy. There are around 250 companies involved in solar power generation in the country, and more than 8,000 job opportunities have been created through that. Jobs at different technological grades are there, and a new techno-engineering skill development necessity has been created from vocational training to university level.

Similarly, in biomass power development, there is a huge necessity in developing the biomass supply chain through increased cultivation, harvesting, collection, raw material processing, etc. and it will require a large workforce as well as mechanization. Meanwhile, if we go for large-scale manufacturing of renewable energy equipment such as wind turbines, solar PVs, etc. we will be able to gain huge economic benefits to the country. High-quality raw materials required for solar PVs are available in the country, and research and training on value addition of these resources are already being conducted by universities. So, we will need an integrated renewable energy development programme in the country where opportunities will be there for this type of diverse economic benefits.

As far as the scale of renewable energy development projects is concerned, projects have been implemented in the range from 1 MW to 10 MW. By means of implementing projects in larger scales like 100 MW, it will be possible to attract high-end renewable energy investor companies in the world to Sri Lanka whereby it will be able to have most sophisticated technologies at most competitive rates, and this type of international investments will be a boon to the overall economy of the country as well. So, measures are being taken to develop large-scale projects called energy parks.

Activities in the development of first solar energy park of 100 MW in Siyambalanduwa, the first wind energy park in Mannar and the first solar-wind hybrid park (solar – 150 MW, wind – 250 MW) in Pooneryn are being conducted by the SLSEA in collaboration with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and other relevant statutory institutions.

Dr. Rodrigo said with the experience and involvement in the particular subject, renewable energy development has become a priority in the development agenda of the country. The present Government wishes to go for 80 percent of the electricity generation through renewable energy sources by 2030.


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