The Sri Lankan Power Sector

100% Electricity Generation through Renewable Energy by 2050

Sri Lanka’s energy demand is currently being catered to by several energy sources consisting of both indigenous non-fossil fuels and imported fossil fuels. Most of the country’s energy needs are met through biomass, an indigenous fuel source, and imported fossil fuels, such as petroleum and coal. The remainder is made up of other indigenous sources which, include large hydro and renewables such as solar, small hydro and wind.9 However 52% of Sri Lanka’s electricity in 2015 was generated through fossil fuel. Since indigenous fossil fuel is a scare in our country, a significant part of fossil fuel used for electricity was imported therefore making it a substantial part of Sri Lanka’s import expenditure. It is very important due to these reasons for Sri Lanka to focus on developing and adopting to indigenous renewable sources of energy to meet the growing demand and most importantly to reduce the economic burden of import.

By 2050 the report estimates that the 100% RE scenario can potentially save Sri Lanka US$18-US$19 billion by avoiding the use of imported Fossil Fuel.

By 2050 the report estimates that the 100% RE scenario can potentially save Sri Lanka US$18-US$19 billion by avoiding the use of imported Fossil Fuel.

In 2014 Sri Lanka met it’s target of generating 10% of electricity using Renewable Energy. Thereafter in 2015 the contribution to Fossil Fuel to the electricity mix decreased and a rise in the contribution to renewable energy and large hydro increased.

The above report estimates that total investments to the tune of US$54-US$56 billion will be necessary in the power sector to achieve the 100% renewable energy.

The above report estimates that total investments to the tune of US$54-US$56 billion will be necessary in the power sector to achieve the 100% renewable energy.

At the 22nd UNFCCC Conference held at Marrakech, Morocco, as part of the Climate Vulnerability Forum Sri Lanka pledged to use only RE for electricity generation by 2050.

By 2050, Sri Lanka’s electricity generation demand is likely to increase fivefold to ~70,000 GWh from ~14,000 GWh in 2016.

By 2050, Sri Lanka’s electricity generation demand is likely to increase fivefold to ~70,000 GWh from ~14,000 GWh in 2016.

Even though Sri Lanka has abundant potential for harnessing wind and solar energy, a proper mix is required to meet the evening peak demand, when solar energy will not be available.

Also, to achieve 100% RE, a significant amount of supporting infrastructure development will be required. Currently, the capacity utilization levels of RE sources are much lower than conventional sources and significant investment will be required for capacity development and the establishment of supporting balancing infrastructure.

The following sections will explore the key status of the Present and Future of the Sri Lankan Power System
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An overview of the Sri Lankan Power Sector

The contribution of fossil fuels to Sri Lanka’s electricity generation mix has seen a continuous rise over the years. Currently Fossil fuels serve as the primary source of fuel for electricity generation in the country. As a country with limited proven indigenous fossil fuel resources, Sri Lanka is dependent on imported coal and petroleum for the generation of its electricity.

Sri Lanka’s current electricity generation portfolio is made up of both grid connected and off-grid systems. While the grid-connected space is dominated by the CEB, there is also a significant presence of private independent power producers who are well versed in generating electricity through renewables. Off-grid systems on the other hand are few, consisting of mostly diesel or renewable powered setups.

Although the minimum operating capacity of coal and gas based stations is in the range of 60-70 percent, interactions with relevant stakeholders revealed that the actual technical minimum is much lower (40-50 percent). This leads to situations where operating these plants cost-effectively during low demand conditions is tough due to the technological barriers involved.

With respect to CEB hydro and renewable power plants it must be noted that the overall plant load factors 90 of have been improved due to rich rainfall, which in turn has influenced the reduction of thermal oil plant dispatch.

The Sri Lanka Power Sector Stakeholders

The Sri Lankan electricity sector is largely managed by state-owned corporations, along with private sector participation in power generation. There are two regulatory agencies involved in the electricity sector, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) and Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA).

The key generation, transmission and distribution players in the electricity sector and their interactions are shown below;

A Vision to Generate 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 in
Sri Lanka

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