Sri Lanka expert says solar energy too costly without subsidy

Aug 18, 2008 (LBO) – Solar energy is still too expensive to be used widely without government subsidies, a Sri Lankan expert has told the island’s energy-intensive industries which are grappling with the highest electricity costs in Asia. Tilak Siyambalapitiya, managing director, Resource Management Associate, said solar energy cost 60 rupees per kilowatt hour whereas now industrialists are not paying over 13 rupees per kilowatt hour for power from the state utility.

Power now is generated by hydro-electric and diesel-fired thermal plants but the island also plans to build coal-fired plants to cope with growing energy requirements and prevent blackouts.

“The reality is that the investment cost of solar panels on a per watt basis is five dollars without import duty,” Siyambalapitiya told seminar on alternative fuel resources for Sri Lankan industry.

“Maybe a large array can be bought at three dollars.”

The seminar was organised by the Sri Lanka Ceramics Council, which represents the energy-intensive ceramics industry.

Other conventional technologies cost around one or two dollars per watt, Siyambalapitiya said.

Another problem with solar energy technology was utilisation with the maximum solar output being