Wind energy electricity generation is a reality in Sri Lanka

By Noor Nizam

(August 27, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) The news article written by Garvin Karunaratne, formerly of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service under the heading “The Wind Turbines of Spain , France and Portugal ” dated August 25, 2009 and published in an Internet Newspaper which highlights issues concerning Sri Lanka is of great value and concern. Gavin Karunaratne should be commended for his boldness to take to task the lethargic and selfish bureaucrats on this issue of renewable energy development of electricity energy in Sri Lanka . When Gavin Karunaratne is stating that “Someone is trying to prove that wind power is not feasible and the oil lobby is so strong as to sabotage the feasibility of wind power”, the message should be well taken by others too, handling national planning and development strategies to assist the little island of nearly 21 million people to come out of the rut of poverty, misery, the destruction of the civil war and the dependence of foreign powers.

Our planners and bureaucrats should think anew. They should not work by the Plans drafted and approved by interested groups, be they aid, private sector or political, who have had their say in lobbying the big wigs in power in various countries where it was meant not to develop our countries but to give our countries Aid in a manner that the Aid money flowed back to the donor countries with interest. John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” should be a guiding light in our new thinking of planning and development strategies.

But what worries me most is the statement made in the article that – “Someone is trying to prove that wind power is not feasible and the oil lobby is so strong as to sabotage the feasibilit y of wind power”.

While there is much room to believe the later, Wind Energy Electricity generation has been winning the struggle against those no-green power generation pundits of the CEB and the International lobby that has been promoting natural gas, coal power and fossil fuel power generations since 2002. In 2002, a US aided wind assessment study was launched in Sri Lanka and the final report was released in 2003. The Wind Farm Analysis and Site Selection Assistance Project report covered areas such as North and Southeast Coast – Hambantota to Buthawa, West Coast – Kalpitiya Peninsula and Puttalam, Northwest Coast – Mannar Island, North Coast – Jaffna, and Central Province – Ambewela,

M. Young and R. Vilhauer, Global Energy Concepts, LLC, Kirkland, Washington , NREL were the researchers who did the study for US Aid.

The first 3 MW grid connected pilot wind power plant was set-up in the country at Hambantota. It has been commissioned in 1999 and the monthly plant factor has been in the range of 5% to 15% in year 2006. Sri Lankan researchers have made substantial studies on this plant to strengthen the viability of wind energy electricity generation. Mention has to be made of the team that made this possible. The study under heading “Wind power development and its status in Sri Lanka ” 2006. - The Research project team was from Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, comprised of Sri Lankan scientist from the University of Peradeniya , supported by National Science Foundation. The scientists were - A. Atputharajah, A.P. Tennakoon, R.P.S. Chandrasena, J.B. Ekanayake, S.G. Abeyratne. This paper discusses the wind power development in the world and summarizes the status in Sri Lanka . Possible research areas, that was needed to be motivated in Sri Lanka to check the feasibility of wind power generation, have
also been discussed.

It was subsequent to such indigenous and pioneering research studies and engagements that wind energy electricity generation has today reached its present position in Sri Lanka .

In 2006, the CEB signed Letters of Intent in mid August 2009 with four commercial developers for the purpose of building plants to produce 34 megawatts of wind power on the west coast of Sri Lanka . The proposed wind plants with installed capacity of 34 megawatts were to produce about 1 percent of total power generation in Sri Lanka . Venturing into green energy, in its continued effort to produce green energy non dependent on fossilized imported oil Sri Lanka’s Hayley s Group in around 2008, built a wind power farm on the Western coast of Sri Lanka. A 10 MW wind power plant was being built at Nirmalapura at Kalpitiya in Puttlam District to augment Hayley’s already existing green energy power generating plants like the Hydropower stations.

Another project in the area is the farm of wind power generators set-up by Sulunga Energy. The farm of wind power generators will have seven turbines when completed with each turbine producing 1.5 MW of power. Preparation for signing a Power Purchase agreement by the end of 2008 was completed. The venture was initiated by Sulunga Energy. Interlink Group the holding company of Sulanga Energy has substantial investment in real estate in Kalpitiya. Additional new projects were also approved and Indian wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon Energy has received orders to supply 10MW of wind turbine capacity to a project developed by Senok Wind Power in Sri Lanka . The project is supplied with eight units of Suzlon's S64 1.25MW wind turbines, will come up in the Kalpitiya region of Sri Lanka . Supply of turbines to the project already commenced and in process in 2009, with project completion slated for fiscal 2010.

Non-the-less, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa government has to be commended in it’s thrust for indigenous resolutions to issues that are facing the Nation, specially at a time, the Nation is striving hard to pull it’s self from the rut of the 3 decades of civil war that had and will never have any meaning, except to the international forces that are still committed to destroy our island in the Indian ocean - Sri Lankan, the pearl of the Indian ocean as narrated by great writers and poets.

It was indeed heartening to note that The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to four companies for investments worth US $ 68 million.

Chairman/Director General Dhammika Perera signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI and presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to the investors.

Two investment agreements worth US $ 37 million were signed with Vidatamunai Wind Power (Pvt.) Ltd and Seguwantivu Wind Power (Pvt.) Ltd. The companies will set up two wind power plants at Vidatamunai and Seguwantivu in Puttalam. Akbar Brothers, Hirdaramani Group and Debug Computers are the main promoters of the venture. The two wind power plants will supply 20 megawatts of power to the national grid. The ventures will utilise 13 and 12 wind turbines imported from Spain at Vidatamunai and Seguwantivu.

Director of the companies Asgi Akbarali said that wind power is a green energy and will not affect the environment. When the power plants are completed these will be the only wind power plants that are operational in Sri Lanka .

Directors of Vidatamunai Wind Power (Pvt) Ltd and Seguwantivu Wind Power (Pvt) Ltd Asgi Akbarali and Moiz Najimudeen signed the agreements. CEO Manjula Perera was also present at the occasion.

But the cream of the wind energy electricity generation is still to be announced. The project which is in the pipeline and has received the “go ahead signal in principal” from the Government of Sri Lankan, is a 134 mega watt project that will be spread in the North specially and parts of the North Eastern provinces. Proudly naming the Nation that always has been a friend of Sri Lanka at good and bad times, through they had inter-governmental relationship frictions due to political misunderstanding and HR issues, claimed as bad by certain of their national politicians, when in reality the world has begun to understand the truth slowly and with patience, Canadian consultants are working on the project planning with eagerness and dedication. The team is led by a Canadian lady who is a Production Engineer and Wind Energy Consultant with many years of experience in the field with the consulting Canadian Wind Energy Engineering Company, which is engaged in some of the innovative and largest Wind Energy Electricity generating projects in Canada . The Sri Lankan partnering company, which is already in the business of renewable energy production, hopes to engage all it’s resources to make this venture a real joint success in the coming months.

The driving force of this Canadian-Sri Lankan Renewable Wind Energy Generation Project is the Sri Lankan Canadian Diaspora comprising of Sri Lankan Canadian citizens who want to contribute their best towards the infrastructure development of the North in the aftermath of the end of the armed struggle between the LTTE and the Security forces in May 2009. Like the rise of the phoenix from the ashes, the destroyed supply of electricity in the North will arise again with green energy projects like the Canadian-Sri Lankan Renewable Wind Energy Generation Project with assistance from Canada , a friend always to Sri Lanka . As Mr. Garvin Karunaratne wishes, Wind Energy Electricity Generation will be a reality in Sri Lankan for the next generation.
-Sri Lanka Guardian