COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s new government wants to stop imports of fossil fuel, replacing it with indigenous natural gas and renewable energy, a senior official said.
Suren Batagoda, Secretary, Ministry of Power and Energy said a new ‘national plan’ aims to cut energy use and reduce emissions.
"Now we’re thinking of 100 percent clean indigenous energy, including Mannar Basin gas resources which we’re positively trying to develop."
"Our target is to stop completely import of fossil fuels," Batagoda told a forum held to discuss a United Nations report on how the island had performed in meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, of improving the lot of the less affluent.
Batagoda said that 49 percent of primary energy supply is imported today.
"That means we have to produce 49 percent within the country," he said, though it was not clear why international trade was bad and autarky was superior from the point of view of the poor.
Some of this requirement could be met from offshore natural gas deposits in the Mannar Basin.
"We’re working to develop the gas resources and our target is to have 1,000MW of power in next 10-15 years using our own gas. Gas is not emission-intensive."
Batagoda said the government was also looking to exploit solar energy potential and that of biomass and wind power.
"Our target is to use every single biomass source – from paddy husks to coconut shell."
The government is also launching a significant energy conservation programme with demand side management to reduce energy use.
"The power and transport sector will be completely transformed with electric cars and trains," Batagoda said.
"We have 2,000 MW of coal power in the pipeline which will be phased out in 30 years. We’re talking of a 50-year time horizon."
Even at the height of the commodity bubble fossil fuels were among the cheapest and most reliable sources of energy and their cost came partly from state imposed taxes.
Many renewable energy sources however are expensive and are kept operating with billions of tax dollars extracted from the people and channelled to such firms as subsidies.
Countries with many poor people such as China and India have been resisting interventionism especially to cut down carbon dioxide emissions.