Laugfs Power (Pvt) Ltd held the ground breaking ceremony and foundation stone laying for the largest solar power plant in the country, to be set up with an investment of around Rs.5 billion. The 20MW facility at Hambantota will be constructed by international experts deploying European technology.
Sri Lanka currently depends on fossil fuel based electricity generation for over 60 percent of its annual electricity requirements, with over Rs. 66,160 million spent on fossil fuel sources in 2014. With the rapid growth in the population and industrialization, the demand for electricity is expected to continue to increase at a rate of around 6 – 8 percent. In recent years, the Sri Lankan government has continuously increased its focus on renewable energy sources through the National Energy Policy and other mandates, with 20 percent of electricity generation targeted from NCRE by 2020.
Currently only 3 solar power plants are operated in Sri Lanka with a combined capacity under 1.4 MW. With the setting up of Sri Lanka’s largest solar power project with a capacity of 20MW, Laugfs expects to contribute 40GWh annually to the national grid.
“The benefits of this project to our country is multifaceted. It will be an important contributor to reduce our dependence on traditional fossil fuel for electricity generation, significantly driving down foreign currency outflow. This project will also generate numerous direct and indirect employment opportunities within the local communities and will help uplift the lives of many. The environmental impact is also significant with the new plant calculated to eliminate the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) by about 28,000 tons annually from the air, that would otherwise have been emitted with the use of fossil fuel,” stated Laugfs Chairman W. K. H. Wegapitiya.
“Sri Lanka is a tropical country rich with natural resources and we have great potential to develop non-conventional renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. We should actively pursue these in order to reduce dependency on fossil fuel,” he further elaborated.
Having already exploited most hydro power sources within the country, Sri Lanka’s energy industry has now begun to focus on developing solar and wind power, as the next most promising renewable energy sources in order to achieve the government’s policy targets on energy. Despite being closely located to the equator and receiving an abundance of sunlight throughout the year, solar power is still a largely untapped area for power generation in Sri Lanka.
Contribution of solar power for electricity production in Sri Lanka is considerably low compared to other countries in the region. Pakistan is already on its way to set up the world’s largest solar park, while Bangladesh is also rapidly expanding investments in this area with the aim to power 6 million households with solar power by 2017. Solar has rapidly become a primary focus as an alternative energy source across the world due to low generation costs involved as a free natural resource, and the favourable environmental impact with no emissions and environmental degradation.
“The use of fossil fuel as a traditional energy source for generating electricity, is not only expensive, but also environmentally damaging. Therefore it is imperative that we divert our attention to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy,” remarked Group Managing Director of Laugfs, Thilak De Silva.
“As a trusted brand with deep Sri Lankan roots, we are committed to develop sustainable energy solutions. We have demonstrated this since the inception of Laugfs in 1995, when we embarked on our Auto Gas conversion businesses as an alternative for traditional fuel. LAUGFS Gas has provided LPG for nearly 15 years as a cleaner alternative for traditional fuel sources, while Laugfs Eco Sri has pioneered air quality management in Sri Lanka,” De Silva further elaborated.