“Renewable energy only option for current crisis” | Daily News

“Renewable energy only option for current crisis”

Successive govts played down its potential:

Waruna Dahanayake, Small Hydro Power Developers Association, Secretary and Legal Advisor, Thusitha Peiris, Small Hydro Power Developers Association, President, Manjula Perera, Wind Power Developers Association, Secretary, Riyaz Sangani, Small Hydro Power Developers Association, Past President, Lasith Wimalasena, Ground Mounted Solar Developers Association, President, Chamil Silva, Bio Energy Developers Association President, Kushan Jayasuriya, Solar Industries Association, President, Prabath Wickramasinghe Small Hydro Power Developers Association, Past President at the event

Successive governments have played down the potential of renewable energy and have concentrated on other expensive alternative energy sources resulting in today’s electricity crisis, a group of member’s from Alternative Energy Producers said yesterday.

Despite President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s plan to use 70% of renewable energy by 2030 the approval process is yet to be simplified which is aggravating the current power crisis and pushing back the President’s targets. “Though it takes less than a month to install a solar power station and connect it to the national grid the approval process takes over nine months despite the change of government,” they said.“Though there are over 600 applications to commence solar power and biomass, wind and mini hydro energy projects none of them have received approval for the past few months. Some projects are lined up in a tender process which will take a minimum of one year to take off the ground! If speedily approval can be given to at least 10 of these projects we will ensure that 10% of the electricity demand can be met by them in less than one year and this too without having to invest a single dollar.

They however said that after a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa the ‘royalty tax’ charged by the Mahaweli Authority and Forest Department was scrapped and thanked the President for it. He also categorically denied former Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka’s quote that the country doesn’t have the capacity to store excess solar energy and should slow down this process. (Ranawaka made this comment to the Daily News at an Advocata event as well.)

“This is a totally false and misleading statement as the modern world has so many ways to store solar energy. We must also say that if not for the current solar energy production capacities the country would definitely be in darkness for a few hours during day time.

“Solar is powering the nation during day time!”He said that prior to the C-19 pandemic Coal power generation from Lak Wijaya plant was the second cheapest energy source after Hydro Power. (Rs. 3 plus a unit) “But today with the high coal process, freight and dollar appreciation PKH which cost Rs. 9.81 has now shot up to Rs. 24.90 once again proving that alternative power is the cheapest and least harmful to the environment.

“One must also add the environmental impact and cost during coal power generation.’’The members explained that new biomass energy production facilities will firstly help to reduce the government oil import bill for energy by USD 40 million and also give out Rs. 3.3 billion for rural people who grow and for supplying the plant a ‘giriseeriya’ to us and it will also help produce organic fertiliser.

There are currently a total of 294 private sector renewable energy developer projects which have been commissioned. These projects have a combined capacity of 718.334 megawatts (MW).

“In the backdrop of dwindling foreign currency reserves and capacity shortages, the only logical solution for Sri Lanka to take is to adopt renewable energy as the primary source of energy production,” they stressed.

“However today renewable energy developers also run into a myriad of challenges from the CEB that has delayed approval and grid connections, sometimes attributed to incorrect technical analysis.’’

Riyaz Sangani, Past President of Hydro Power Developers Association stated,“Our goal as the renewable energy sector is to help the government and the people overcome the current energy crisis in the country. We believe that the key to this is to increase cooperation between the government and the private sector. Only then will we be able to successfully overcome all obstacles and make the switch to renewable energy.”

“There have been many local and foreign investors who have shown interest in investing in renewable energy for Sri Lanka, but they are moving off to African countries due to red tape in Sri Lanka.”

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