Costly oil-based Sri Lanka power generation up sharply in first seven months

Norochcholai coal plant

ECONOMYNEXT – High-cost oil-based power generation rose sharply in Sri Lanka in the first seven months of 2019 from a year ago, accounting for the highest share of energy supply as drought reduced hydro-power capacity, the central bank said.

Total electricity generation, excluding rooftop solar power, increased by 5.2 per cent to 9,271.4 gigawatt hours (GWh) in the first seven months of 2019 from 8,809.8 GWh in the same 2018 period.

“Amidst dry weather conditions experienced in the first half of 2019, hydropower generation declined substantially by 37.9 per cent to 1,539.2 GWh in the first seven months of the year in comparison to the same period in 2018,” the central bank said.

Consequently, thermal power generation increased notably to compensate for the reduction in hydropower generation, it said in a new report.

Fuel oil-based power generation and coal power generation increased by 44.5 per cent and 18.2 per cent, to 3,616.1 GWh and 3,397.7 GWh in the first seven months of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.

Fuel oil accounted for 39 percent of total power generation in this period, with coal supply 37 percent, hydro 17 percent and non-conventional renewable energy eight percent.

During the first half of 2019, the rooftop solar power also contributed 63.6 GWh to the total power generation of the country.

Power generation through non-conventional renewable energy sources, excluding rooftop solar, fell by 24.6 per cent to 718.3 GWh in the first seven months of 2019 from the same period of 2018.

“This was mainly due to the reduction in power generation by mini hydropower plants owing to dry weather conditions,” the central bank said.

During the months of March and April, the Ceylon Electricity Board state power utility was compelled to resort to scheduled daily power cuts owing to inadequate electricity generation capacity and increased demand under dry weather conditions.

The power cuts ended after 11 April 2019.

The CEB contributed 71.1 per cent of the total energy generation in the country with the rest generated by Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
(COLOMBO, 05 November 2019)