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Over 30% power distribution loss in remote areas

The distribution loss of electricity in remote areas is over 30 percent. If a household consumes 1000W then the Ceylon Electricity Board will have to generate 1300W to the consumer because 300W are lost during distribution and transmission. To solve the rural electrification crisis we need to have decentralised power generating systems with isolated mini grids operated independently, said Chairman, Hydropower International (Pvt) Ltd. Nishantha Nanayakkara.

Around 15 percent of the population are deprived of electricity which accounts for over two million households in the country. The majority of them are from remote areas and they will never have access to electricity from the national grid since the extension of distribution lines is not economical.

Nanayakkara said the people who have electricity have to bear huge electricity bills besides the soaring cost-of-living. The Ceylon Electricity Board incurs huge financial losses due to management problems. If effective and proper strategies and policies are in place then we could reduce the financial loss to some extent.

We need to exploit environmentally and socially suitable renewable energy resources because they are indigenous. There are nearly 100 micro grids operating in the country getting power from renewable energy sources.

It will be ideal if some projects could be operated as stand alone mini grids powered from their own renewable energy sources. After a certain point these mini grids can be connected to the national grid to get high reliability of operations. These mini grids are operated in the Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa and Kegalle districts, Nanayakkara said.

The Ceylon Electricity Board cannot absorb all these embedded renewable energy resources such as hydro power, biomass and wind power due to the augmentation of the grid and technical limitations. Seventy-two percent of the population who have access to electricity could be increased to around 85 percent provided all the expansion plans are implemented, Nanayakkara said.

Sri Lanka depends heavily on costly thermal power. decentralised, renewable energy production is more profitable to solve rural electrification problem, he said.

While the household electrification rate in Sri Lanka ranges from 28 to 36 percent the annual power demand growth is 8 percent. The use of traditional grid-based approaches to meet the rural electricity demand has become expensive as lines are extended to these remote areas.

Mini-hydro projects need to be used as potential energy sources for rural electrification. Such projects offer a host of benefits to the local community as well as to the country.

Unlike thermal and coal power plants hydro power projects are environmental friendly. The adverse effects on nature are minimal in hydro power projects, Nanayakkara said.

Mini hydro power projects are less costly. We are losing much foreign exchange due to importation of costly thermal power. If the country is to save foreign exchange, policy-makers should encourage setting up more mini hydro power projects.


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