By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Power and Energy Ministry officials have informed the Solar Industries Association that the much touted Net metering system (use of energy produced by solar projects in homes) is to be cancelled.
Net accounting or metering systems (sale of extra energy produced by solar projects in homes to the CEB) was introduced in 2016 by the Power and Renewable Energy Ministry to popularize green energy, reduce dependency on fuel powered electricity and help consumers to earn an extra buck by selling their excessive energy to the CEB.
The Solar Industries Association (SIA), in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and all other political leaders demanding urgent intervention to protect the solar power industry, complained that the Net plus tariffs (CEB buys all energy produced by solar projects) are also to be drastically reduced.
Mr. Kushan Jayasuriya, President of the SIA in his letter further states that all these haphazard actions are being rushed through in the backdrop of a power crisis already facing Sri Lanka. “It is quite obvious that 200 MW of solar power produced on rooftops is an added blessing to the CEB with the annual power demand expected to grow at 200 MW plus, a factor that is expected to add to the current shortage with no major power plants to be added to the national grid in near future – at least not until 2023. Therefore, your urgent intervention is necessary to prevent the destruction of the Solar Industry in Sri Lanka,” Jayasuriya stressed, adding the ‘Surya Bala Sangramaya’ programme launched with your valuable endorsement was a resounding success with over 17,000 installations with a combined energy capacity of nearly 200 MW being added to the national grid.
The CEB and Ministry of Power and Energy officials have undertaken steps without any consultation from relevant authorities including the Cabinet and yourself as the Minister in charge of the Environment that will completely stop the installation of solar power projects (other than those of minimal size). The CEB has issued a circular on the 28th of May 2019, refusing to accept applications for solar power projects over 50 kW in size, Mr. Jayasuriya charged.
“Therefore, these actions will lead to the complete destruction of the solar industry in Sri Lanka leading to over 10,000 people losing their jobs. Reduction in the contribution of Solar power to the national grid will result in greater purchases of emergency power costing over Rs.30 per unit, compared to a cost less than Rs. 18.00 per unit for solar power averaged over a 20 year contract period and not subject to any escalation. The cost of Emergency power and any other power source on the other hand increases as the price of fossil fuels, diesel, LNG and coal rises, and as the rupee depreciates,” Mr. Jayasuriya emphasized.
Furthermore, these steps taken by the CEB are illegal as it is contravening the Cabinet Paper No. 16/1594/727/027 dated 25/08/2016 that mandated the introduction of all three schemes of solar rooftop tariff. These moves will also lead to the contravention of international agreements signed by Sri Lanka such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris convention which requires generating 50% of the total energy needs of the country through renewable energy sources such as solar power by 2030.
“We therefore respectfully request you to instruct the Ministry of Power and Energy and the Ceylon Electricity Board to immediately revoke these measures and revert to the existing systems which we believe will lead to the continued success of the Surya Bala Sangramaya,” he noted.
Therefore, these actions will lead to the complete destruction of the solar industry in Sri Lanka leading to over 10,000 people losing their jobs