Sri Lanka’s CEB says energy sector is challenged when providing quality electricity

Apr 24, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s energy sector is challenged when providing quality electricity to suit the current requirements of the households in the Island, Chairman of Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said.

“Supplying quality electricity is a challenge,” Anura Wijepala, Chairman of Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) told a forum in Colombo yesterday.

“It is not the same network we used to have a decade ago,”

“It is a network with various devices and electronic appliances, which require more electricity and of course quality electricity,”

“I have that problem in my home.”

According to data, Sri Lanka has covered almost 90 per cent of the household providing 24/7 electricity supply.

However when the demand meets supply closely, the quality level is not up to standard.

“The new devices have been affected due to the quality of electricity,” Wijepala said.

“So it time that we have a re-look at the system and find more avenues to improve quality of electricity.”

Sri Lanka is a South Asian leader in terms of electricity coverage where as India and Bangladesh have covered about 60 per cent to 70 per cent and Nepal 70 per cent.

“None of these countries could not assure 24/7 electricity service,” Priyantha D C Wijayatunga, Principal Energy Specialist of Asian Development Bank said.

Countries like Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka have only done that, he said.

Data from CEB showed that consumer accounts has gone up 4.64 per cent to 5,210,761 in 2013.

The total energy requirement of the country was around 11,125 kilotonne of oil equivalent (ktoe) in 2013, and the primary energy supply mainly consisted of 4,814 ktoe of biomass, 4,582 ktoe of fossil fuels, and 1,442 ktoe of hydro.

Accordingly, 56 percent of total energy consumption is from indigenous (biomass + hydro), and Sri Lanka has to import fossil fuels to meet the balance.

This requires importing two Million Metric Tons (MMT) of crude oil, four MMT of refined petroleum products and 2.25 MMT of coal to the country annually, costing approximately five billion US dollars in foreign exchange. The average annual total bill of imported fossil fuel is therefore 25 percent of our import expenditure, and nearly 50 percent of total export income.

Therefore the power and energy sector has a huge bearing on the country’s balance of trade and exchange rates.

Sri Lanka has already achieved a grid connectivity of 98 percent, which is commendable by South Asian standards.

Current total installed power generation capacity of the country is approximately 4,050 Mega Watt, consisting of 900 MW of coal power, 1,335 MW of oil burning thermal power, 1,375 MW of hydro power and 442 MW of non-conventional renewable energy sources such as wind, mini hydro, biomass and solar power plants.

The annual total electricity demand is about 10,500 GWh, comprising of 38 percent from domestic consumers, 39 percent from industries and 20 percent from commercial enterprises, with the balance coming from other sectors such as religious organizations and street lighting.

The overall annual demand for electricity is expected to increase by around 4-6 percent, a number constrained by high prices.

Damitha Kumarasinghe, Director General of Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said, broad-based research should be carried out to ensure providing quality electricity.

“High quality electricity is a challenge for the electricity sector,” Kumarasinghe said.

 “Research should not be done focusing on technical part only. It has to broad-based, getting information in the aspects of technical, financial, cultural and social,”

“We have to provide for social requirements and see what the people of this country demands now.”