Quick fixes to avoid Sri Lanka blackouts outlined by March 22: Power Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – A probe committee on country-wide blackouts experienced in Sri Lanka will present a report on short term solutions on March 22, Power Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said as the country was in the grip of 7 hour power cuts.

"We will present a report on short term solutions to the problem to President and Prime Minister on March 22, after receiving reports from other committees on March 21," the minister said in a statement.

President Maithripala Sirisena had appointed a committee chaired by the Power Minister and Ministers, Champika Ranawaka, Susil Premajayantha, Sagala Ratnayake, Eran Wickremeratne and Deputy Power Minister Ajith P Perera.

The committee along with others, are expected to come up with short and long term fixes to avoid outages.

Sri Lanka faced a country-wide blackout last week after a transformer at a high tension receiving station in the Colombo suburb of Biyagama failed.

The complex, which receives power from the Mahaweli river system among others was built in the 1980s and one transformer was closed for regular maintenance when a component called a ‘tap changer’ in a second transformer failed.

The location is considered a weak point in Sri Lanka’s power transmission network.  After power was restored another cascading failure occurred due a suspected problem with a circuit breaker which had got stuck during the first failure, sources familiar with matter said.

Meanwhile a 900 MegaWatt coal generation complex also had to be shut down as power demand disappeared.

The emergency steam release requires some components to be replaced before start-up which requires the plant be cooled down which takes around three days, sources said.

In the past Sri Lanka’s largest thermal plants were 300 MegaWatt combined cycle plants, which could be taken out of the system safely and re-started in a few hours, a process known as a ‘warm start’.





The CEB is expected to come up with measures to shut down one or more coal plants quickly but avoid the need for a ‘cold start’. The Norochcholai complex has three 300 Mega Watt plants. (Colombo/Mar16/2016)
(COLOMBO, March 16, 2016)

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