The Small Hydro Power Developers Association call on President to protect the sector
January, 28, 2020
The Small Hydro Power Developers Association (SHPDA), representing the major local power generators of renewable energy in Sri Lanka, recently held a general meeting at the Sri Lanka Foundation about the current energy crisis.
The renewable energy sector which has seen heavy local investment from 1996 to 2015, resulting in significant foreign currency savings, has been stagnant since 2016 due to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) halting the implementation of new mini hydropower projects. This policy continues despite the CEB projecting the need to spend Rs 6.5 billion on purchasing emergency power this year.
Speaking at the meeting Prabath Wickramasinghe, Chairman – Small Hydro Power Developers Association, said, “There are projects with a total cumulative capacity of about 100 MW, which have received all the approvals and are ready to commence construction and feed energy to the national grid in the next 2 to 3 years. Projects of this capacity will potentially save taxpayers Rs 4.5 billion – which would have otherwise gone towards the purchase of fossil fuels – while serving our environment by reducing greenhouse gases which is the equivalent of planting 3 million trees.”
“But as a result of fabricated and baseless legal arguments, the industry has been completely on hold since 2016 while the CEB tries to introduce a failed and unsuccessful bidding process to the small hydropower sector that will not be successful in helping achieve our national renewable energy targets and has only achieved to discourage investment in the sector. This in turn has further increased our dependence on fossil fuel based power generation and the steady outflow of our foreign capital,” he added.
Currently the renewable energy sector has a total of 425MW of operational power plants, employs over 5,000 people and, through investments, bring foreign revenue to Sri Lanka while creating a large number of foreign employment opportunities in the field of engineering and construction. As an indigenous source of energy these projects also cut down foreign exchange outflow from the country.
“Today the country is headed towards an energy crisis that can be averted with the correct policies. That is why we humbly call upon His Excellency the President to save our nation a huge foreign exchange outflow, the taxpayer from power cuts and the world from greenhouse gases by protecting this industry through the right decisions,” said Wickramasinghe.
The Small Hydro Power Developers Association seeks to jointly work with relevant state authorities to formulate and implement appropriate national renewable energy policies that will improve the lives of Sri Lankans. SHPDA members currently supply approximately 10% of the nation’s demand, saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange to the country annually. Moreover, small hydropower projects, while being environmentally friendly, have stimulated tangible economic progress among rural Sri Lankan communities.