Earth Hour

Norochcholai power plant.

Mahinda Maama sent everyone an SMS today: “Please join hands with me to observe Earth Hour 2012 by switching off non essential lights on 31st March 2012 from 8.30-9.30pm. – President Mahinda Rajapaksa. ttyl”. I added the last part. I guess it’s OK. I’m addicted to electricity but awareness is never a bad thing.

Seriously, I need current. The lights been going off in Dehiwela like every week and I dunno what to do with myself. Sit in a chair, in the dark, while mosquitos buzz around. The computer is on all day, I sleep next to the phone, this stuff is energy. I don’t feel bad about it. The only time I go off the grid is on meditation retreat. At that point you’re on the ether-net, if you know what I mean. A different type of energy, but energy all the same.

Electricity Production In Sri Lanka, INSTALLED CAPACITY IN MW, 2010

Electricity Production In Sri Lanka. Data from the CEB, 2010 (, infographic by me

Shutting off the lights is one thing. The bigger problem is the hideous inefficiency of Sri Lanka’s energy sector. On the plus side, like 50% of our energy comes from ‘renewable’ sources, ie hydro. On the negative side, this is erratic and the other 50% comes from literally burning crude oil. To be clear, this is like running an entire country off a generator, which is retarded. To make matters worse, out plants are built for Iranian crude, which douchey American embargoes are making harder to get, at times impossible.

They opened a new coal power plant in Norochcholai (which is good), but the damn thing keeps catching fire. Sri Lanka is uniquely positioned to theoretically benefit from alternate energies like solar and tidal (we have no shortage of either sun or surf), but we still need higher efficiency ‘normal’ stuff like coal. It’s honestly a damn mess, and it’s the government’s fault, and with the increase in petrol prices electricity costs have also spiked.

If I don’t use the A/C or hot water much at home my bill is like 2-4k, and this is for one person, just sitting under a fan using a computer. If I do use the A/C (it’s been murderously hot recently) the bill goes up to like 7k. And this was before the price spike.

If digress is to divert, wouldn’t regress be to return? To regress, Earth Hour is kinda silly if you just turn off the lights for an hour. If it leads to some awareness of our broader energy situ, however, I guess that isn’t a bad thing.

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Lankan Thinker
2012-03-31 13:19:01

Sri Lanka has great potential for more renewable energy generation but the problem is the erratic supply from the sources. Grid level storage would be a valuable investment in this regard, but I am not sure if the government is doing much to develop it. I heard some suggestion of looking at pumped storage schemes as one possibility, but there might be better alternatives such as the one described in this talk:

2012-03-31 15:45:41

its meant to create awareness on the sustainability of the planet, it encourages people to take responsibility for their impact on the planet, etc. read this:
The Ministry of Environment – Western Province has pledged to plant a tree for every person/corporate that signs up to support earth hour. one method of registering is online.
minister gammampila is also talking a lot about power conservation and things like that. atleast they’re making an effort. its encouraging.

2012-03-31 17:58:32

I heard that if the entire country did this for one hour, the equivalent of a single days production by the Norochcholai power plant would be saved.

2012-04-01 22:31:01

I’d argue that most inhabitants of the energy poor parts of the world (including Sri Lanka) are unwilling participants in “Earth Hour” every day of their lives.

You only have to go to the Kalpitiya area (near the fabled ?Norocholai? power station) to see the poorer inhabitants having to use oil and kerosene lamps in the evenings.

Sagara Nanayakkara
2012-04-02 07:51:29

You are spending too much for the electricity. These days you should be able to manage your entire spending (current, water, food, transport etc) under or at Rs 2500.00 p.m. Keep cutting!!!

2012-04-02 11:22:23

“To make matters worse, out plants are built for Iranian crude”
Our refinery (which is somehow functioning quite amazingly) is tuned to Iranian crude. To my knowledge no power plant in SL works with crude oil. But they do work with diesel or furnace oil or in the case of modern plants like Keravalapitiya, natural gas.

Furnace oil is cheaper than diesel but the problem is that our old refinery is unable to produce the low sulfur furnace oil needed. So it (low sulfur furnace oil) needs be imported.

IMO our petroleum sector is in a bigger mess than our electricity sector. It need immediate foreign or government investment (i don’t think our private sector has the capital or the balls to make a 1$ B+ investment).

2012-04-02 20:43:46

When I was there I saw an article in the Daily News from a minister asking people to turn off their refrigerators/freezers for an hour a day.

I don’t think he knows what happens when you refreeze and eat food. A lot of Sri Lankans seem to find it acceptable to leave lights/fans on in unoccupied rooms for no reason and lights on outside the house at night “just in case”. Why is that?

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