OMG. Sri Lankan electricity depends on the rains and our ability to burn stuff. It seems that both have failed, resulting in two hour power cuts, reportedly daily, in ‘certain areas’. Which is super bad. Today there was a power cut and I just had to not work and leave the office, er, house. This is going to do serious damage to anyone trying to run a business in Sri Lanka. Or live, really.
What happened? Well, Sri Lanka depends on hydro for about 50% of its energy needs (see this infographic). The rest of our supply depends on running giant generators to burn fuel oil. The latter madness was supposed to be mitigated by the construction of a coal burning power plant in Norochcholai, but that keeps catching on fire (not in the way it’s supposed to). Now that is completely offline, as are a few thermal plants, and there’s a drought, so no power.
Sri Lanka will have two hour power cuts daily, the first in over a decade, following the outage of a 300 MegaWatt coal plant that generated about 20 percent of the daily energy needs of the country.
A schedule for power cuts are expected to be announced later Monday by state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), until two large plants are brought on line…
Though Sri Lanka has a large hydro generation reserve, water levels are down to about 26 percent of total amid the worst drought in a decade and the plants are needed for a night peak.
The outage of coal plant was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as two other large thermal plants are also out. (LBO)
The Daily Mirror is reporting that these power cuts will also include 45 minutes at night, across certain areas. Which of course seems to include where I live, Dehiwela. According to the more sympathetic government Daily News, they’re imposing the cuts to conduct repairs and have dispatched three teams of specialists to figure out what’s wrong. I would venture that it’s years of bad policy and corruption, but that isn’t immediately helpful.
The Daily News is a propaganda outfit, but they had some stats in there. One is that we’re depending on thermal for 85% of energy right now, meaning that the country is essentially running on a generator. Seriously, think about that to understand the depth of bad policy that led us here. When the power goes out you might run a restaurant off a diesel generator, but that’s now we run our country.
“The CEB depends on thermal power for generation of 85 percent of the country’s electricity requirement due to the prevailing weather condition. The Kerawalapitiya and Lakwijaya power plants generate 270 Mws and 300MWs respectively. Due to the lack of rain fall hydro power generation capacity in the country at present is estimated at 15 percent, “CEB sources said…
‘So the CEB has decided to impose two hour power cuts in certain areas until two operations at the power plants return to normality or hydro power generation is increased to 25-30 percent” said Deputy General Manager for System Control, T.D.Handagama. (Limited power cuts to carry out repair work)
Another interesting point is that the mention when the power cuts will end. Essentially, when they fix the broken plants or when it rains. So pray for rain.