Sri Lanka utility warns govt of power crisis if coal plants delayed

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s power utility has warned the government of an impending power shortage if plans to build two coal-fired power plants are delayed, a senior official said.

“We have started informing the government there will be a crisis in 2018 because of the delays in building the coal power plants,” said Kamani Jayasekara, Deputy General Manager, Transmission and Generation Planning of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
 
“It is, finally, not the least cost plan that will be implemented but short-term measures, like emergency oil-fired plants,” she told a forum held by The Institution of Engineers of Sri Lanka.

She said it was important that the CEB go ahead with two planned coal-fired power plants in eastern Trincomalee.

“We should not delay these two coal power plants.”

One is a joint venture between the CEB and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the other a plant funded by Japan.

The NTPC plant was about to get into the construction phase after many years of delay when the government a few weeks ago decided to change plans.

The government said it wants to have a natural gas plant instead of coal because of environmental considerations and the availability of natural gas deposits in the offshore Mannar Basin which can also be used as fuel for transport and other industries like fertiliser which are now imported.

CEB engineers have criticised the decision for not being taken in a proper planned manner based on adequate research and also for not adhering to its long-term generation plan.

“If we don’t do proper feasibility studies we end up with sub-optimal solutions,” Jayasekara told the forum on generation options for Sri Lanka for a reliable and an economical power supply.

“We need to stop that and implement the CEB’s long-term generation plan. We have looked at all the angles –environmental, technical and economic feasibility.”

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She said the planned coal-fired power plants would comply with all environmental standards.

Electricity demand was growing and the CEB needed time to plan for and build power plants in order to ensure an adequate, reliable supply of power at reasonable cost, she said.

“Some plants are due for retirement so we need to add more capacity to the system.”
(COLOMBO, June 20, 2016)
 

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