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Utilities Commission probing reason for countrywide blackout on August 16

Economynext – The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka is conducting investigations at the Kerawalapitiya and Norochcholai power plants to find out what made the national grid to fail on August 16, PUCSL officials said.

Sri Lanka was hit by a major power failure on August 16 around 1235 hours, triggered by a transmission failure, resulting in emergency shutdowns of all generators connected to the Ceylon Electricity Board grid including coal plants.

The power was not restored until evening as the grid went down repeatedly.

“We have sent two teams today to the Kerawalapitiya main power plant, Kerawalapitiya substation and the Norochcholai power plants” PUCSL, Media Spokesman Jayanath Herath told Economy Next.

“We are investigating what happened on August 16 and the reasons for the power failure.”

Sri Lanka’s Independent Power Producers are generating 35 per cent of daily energy, with the Mahaweli River plants adding another 24 per cent of the daily energy data showed as the state-run power utility was working to re-connect three coal plants to the grid.

When coal plants are suddenly shut down, energy stored in boilers is released as steam to protect the plants, with diaphragms – which is a type of safely value – also rupturing.

The boilers have to cool to replace the diaphragms. Boilers also have to cool for water to be topped up.

“We have to inspect it thoroughly hence it will take about two weeks to get a complete report of the incident,” Herath said.

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has taken steps to help the Utility manage the load with daily power cuts in the country as there is a shortfall of around 300 MW because Norochcholai was not on-line.

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During 1800 hours to 2200 hours in the night peak, the CEB has asked the citizens in the country to switch off non-essential light and electrical equipment.

In an earlier report, PUCSL said the first coal plant could be connected to the grid to meet the night peak today.

Data showed that out of 43.45 Gigawatts hours of daily energy produced after the coal shutdown, independent power producers generated 15.46GWh or 35.5 per cent,

Mahaweli complex hydro plants 10.35 GWh and the Laxapana complex 6.51GWh or 14.99 per cent without counting energy produced by small renewable energy plants which now contribute significant amounts of energy to the grid.

The CEB’s own thermal generators produced 7.68 per cent or 17 per cent of the demand. CEBs coal plants usually generate about 40 per cent of the daily energy on weekdays.

(Colombo/ Aug 21/2020)

Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe