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Are we prepared to face the country’s impending energy crisis?

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Sri Lanka faced an energy shortage in the first few months of the year. Almost all the regions in the country were supplied electricity for a restricted time period only. This affected the production cycle of the country and had adverse effects on the ordinary lives of the general public.

For Sri Lanka, a country with a low capacity for power, it is only a matter of planning and maintaining the energy and managing new energy sources as needed to meet the energy needs of the country. It is imperative for the Government to initiate a systematic plan for this, as the potential for power shortage of this year will remain the same in the years to come.

Sri Lanka Press Institute filed an RTI to the Ceylon Electricity Board requesting to know the proposed measures to fight this issue in the coming year. As per the response by the Electricity board, the following measures and projects will be employed to face the impending energy situation.

The long term (2018-2037) plan set out by the Ceylon Electricity Board sought to add 300 MW into the energy flow of the country by the onset of 2019. Although an Open Cycle section and a 320MW reciprocating engine were to be added to generate energy, the completion of these tasks have not been met. It is the Board’s intention to complete this with immediate action and add to the existing energy flow of the country. However, even if these power plants will not help achieve the capacity of energy needed, extensions of agreements for thermal power plants of ACE Embilipitiya, ACE Matara and Asia Power have added 170 MW to the existing energy capacity. Apart from this, an additional 100 MW has been added to the cycle through a competitive tender call.

The 2018-2037 long term plan has identified or assessed a possible requirement for an additional 150 MW due to dry climate situations, delays in power plant construction, breakdowns of power plants and their proper maintenance. Thus, the year 2019 needs a total capacity of 470 MW, to which 270MW has already been added. The CEB mentions that the rest of 200 MW has yet to be added to the energy cycle.

These responses show that the country has no satisfactory long term plan to meet the energy needs for at least the coming 5-10 years. It is evident that attention has been paid to resolve the energy crisis through short term buying but not comprehensive plans to address the larger issue.

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