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
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.