Government should approve pending solar power projects’

About 617 applications for solar projects to generate 1,555MW of power have been pending the Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB) approval since 2016, Solar Industries Association Secretary Lakmal Fernando said.Speaking at a press conference in Colombo, yesterday, he requested the government to approve these projects without further delay and give serious consideration to promote solar energy.

The association, unveiling its own ‘Solar PV Long-term, Least-cost Generation Plan’, requested the government to accommodate the proposals in it, assuring that implementing them would save Rs.266 billion to the country.Fernando said their set of proposals would be submitted to the government and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) next week.

Registering opposition to emergency power purchase, he said the country had spent approximately Rs.85.7 billion in the past three years for that purpose.“The cost of emergency power purchases in 2016, 2017, and 2018 stood at Rs.16.3 billion (150MW), Rs.27.8 billion (180MW), and Rs.41.6 billion (270MW), respectively. In 2019, it is now proposed to purchase 700MW of emergency power,” he said.

“Three hundred Megawatts of power had already been purchased and the purchase of another 400MW has been proposed. For this year alone, we estimate that the emergency power purchases will cost Rs.101 billion,” he added.“Rains will come in May and emergency power will not be used thereafter, but the people in the country will have to pay for them. When you purchase for four years in a row, how can it be called ‘emergency power’?” Fernando inquired.

“The country does not have a long-term generation plan—but a long-term emergency power purchase plan as of now. None of the proposed large scale power projects will commission before 2025,” he said.The power demand increases by 200 to 300MW, annually. Daily power cuts imposed up to four hours result in economic losses of Rs.1 billion per day. The officials must be responsible for this state-of-affairs,” he said.

He said the government must give serious attention to promote solar panels for rooftops.“There are six million rooftops in this country and solar panels have been fixed on 18,000 of them. We have added 230MW so far to the national grid through solar power,” Fernando said.“This must be increased and small and medium-scale businessmen must be encouraged in that regard,” Fernando added.Association President Roshan Jayasuriya and Executive Member Herath Dissanayake also spoke.