India should actively participate in Sri Lanka’s growing power sector, both traditional and renewable, a top government official has said. “India has a good opportunity and should actively participate. The two governments are active in exploring business potential,” B.M.S. Batagoda, Secretary, Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy, told visiting Indian journalists. He also said the island nation’s government is looking at the possibility of three-way joint venture among Sri Lanka, India and Japan in building an LNG terminal at Kerawalapitiya. Batagoda said the Sri Lankan government has asked its power utility — Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) — and the Indian thermal power major NTPC Ltd to come up with a financial model for the proposed 500 MW liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fired power plant.
“We have asked CEB and the NTPC to come up with the proposal on the joint venture structure like shareholding pattern and other aspects for setting up the power plant,” he said. He said the financial modelling could be on the lines that was agreed earlier for the 500 MW thermal plant at Sampur in Triconmalee district. The coal-fired plant project was to be a 50:50 joint venture between CEB and NTPC but was scrapped for a variety of reasons. Batagoda said the land intended for this power plant can be offered to India to set up 50 MW solar power plant. Sri Lanka is also planning to build another 500 MW LNG power plant with Japan. Speaking about the proposed LNG terminal at Kerawalapitiya, Batagoda said Sri Lanka now has power plants with a generation capacity of 900 MW running on costly fuels. This terminal will enable these plants switch over to the cheaper LNG.
“India and Japan are keen to build the terminal. We are thinking of an open tender for the project. But India and Japan want government-to-government talks. We are also looking at the possibility of a three-way joint venture between Sri Lanka, India and Japan in building a LNG terminal,” Batagoda said. He said another 300 MW LNG power plant is waiting to be tendered. Queried about purchasing power from India, Batagoda said a joint committee is looking at its feasibility. He said a new and shorter route for laying power cables and the financial model for a private player to own and operate it is being looked at. “The other option is for two organisations of the two governments to own the cable company. Possibly India’s Power Grid Corporation can be one of the partners,” Batagoda said.
Alternatively, India can buy wind power from Sri Lanka, he added. “We have 5,000 MW of wind power potential. We can export to India wind power and buy power from India for our base load needs,” Batagoda said. According to him, India should invest in wind power projects in Sri Lanka where the plant load factor (PLF) is good. The PLF of wind turbines in Sri Lanka is around 40 per cent higher than that of the turbines operating in India. Sri Lanka will also come out with global tender for exploration of new gas wells and for attracting investors to develop gas wells. Cairn Lanka, a subsidiary of Cairn India, had discovered gas in two wells.
In the thermal power sector, Sri Lanka is now looking at super critical power plants instead of sub-critical ones, said Sulakshana Jayawardena, Director (Development), Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy. The island nation has a total installed capacity of around 4,000 MW and plans to increase this to around 6,400 MW by 2025 while growing renewable energy sources manifold. (Venkatachari Jagannathan was in Colombo recently at the invitation of wind turbine maker Gamesa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)