Sri Lanka must look at reducing its reliance on thermal energy while increasing the role of renewable energy in the country’s total power generation mix, according to a report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“Driven by its strong economic growth and increasing incomes, the country’s electricity demand is projected to grow 3.6 percent per year. Most of the country’s hydropower resources have already been developed.
From the standpoint of both energy security and environmental concerns, it is important to increase the role of non-hydro renewable energy in the country’s power portfolio,” ADB stated.
Using extrapolations of the country’s current power generation mix and demand levels, the report projected Sri Lanka’s primary energy demand would increase from 9.9 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2010 to 20.3 Mtoe in 2035. However, it noted that through the deployment of renewable sources of energy, energy demand could be cut by 14 percent over the same time frame.
“Without any domestic production, all of Sri Lanka relies on imports for its fossil fuel demand. Although hydro supplies half of the country’s power demand, the other half is met almost entirely by oil. This makes the country vulnerable to international oil price fluctuations and pushes up the country’s power generation costs.
Current construction and commissioning of coal-fired power plants are expected to add some low-cost base load supply.
However, given environmental concerns, it may be difficult to obtain further permission to operate conventional coal-fired power plants,” it noted.
Through the diversification of the country’s power generation portfolio, the report projected that Sri Lanka could reduce its reliance on thermal generation from 77.3 percent at current trends down to 60.7 percent by 2035.
Notably, the ADB’s projections for Sri Lanka’s alternative course of power generation also included the introduction of nuclear power plants as per government plans, in addition to the deployment of advanced technologies towards energy-saving by end users.