While you were sweating through our power cut, you may have wondered where your electricity comes from, and where it went. Sri Lanka is a water civilization, going back 2,300 years. In modern times, the massive Mahaweli Project produces enough electricity for about 50% of our needs. For the rest, however, we use fire, which we’re not good at. Everything changed when the fire nation attacked.
The Mahaweli Project, now a Ministry under President Sirisena, was clean energy before clean energy was cool. Since then, however, there hasn’t been a big energy plan. There have just been stopgap solutions, essentially generators burning oil, and a few coal plants that are notoriously unreliable.
What’s needed now is a solid energy plan to take us into the next 50 years. I don’t know what that is, but Sri Lankan history since the BCs has been about mastering waters. Our ancestors in Parakrama’s time could dam 75 million square meters and build 10cm gradients across kilometers.
Image by Azeez Abubakr (graphics) and Rehman Abubakr (chart), via Wikipedia
Just look at the network we built. Our ancestors harnessed the water to irrigate their fields. We harnessed it to generate electricity. We used to be really good at this stuff. We could be again. Sri Lanka gets a ton of sunlight and our water management has historically been among the best in the world. We should explore that route rather than coal power plants that don’t work.