Depletion of resources and constant increase of energy demand has a major impact on climate change and ecological disasters of our planet. Growing world population as well as better living conditions creates a growing energy demand.
With this in mind, we support industries and sectors in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serve as the principal platform for cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and knowledge on renewable energy.
We also promote the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including hydropower, wind, biomass and solar in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.
Attributed to geo-climatic settings, Sri Lanka is blessed with several types of renewable energy resources. Some of them are widely used and developed to supply the energy requirements of the country. Others have the potential for development when the technologies become mature and economically feasible for use.
We use many different energy resources to do work. Energy resources are classified as renewable or non-renewable. Renewable and non-renewable energy can be used as primary energy resources and converted into secondary energy resources such as electricity and hydrogen.
Non-Renewable Energy Resources
In Sri Lanka, non-renewable energy resources supply most of the energy we use. Non-renewable energy resources include coal, natural gas, petroleum made from crude oil and natural gas liquids. These energy resources are called non-renewable because their supplies are limited and take a very long time to form. Coal, crude oil, and natural gas formed from the remains of plants buried underground millions of years ago.
Renewable Energy Resources
Renewable energy resources include biomass, geothermal energy, hydropower, solar energy, and wind energy. They are called renewable because they are naturally replenished in a short period of time.
A natural resource is considered an energy resource, if it can be converted to a usable form of energy. There are numerous forms of energy resources in the world and different countries use different resources, primarily selected on availability and economic principles. However, environmental and political reasons also influence the selection of a country’s energy portfolio.
Availability, either local or global, is not necessarily the only factor considered for using a particular resource as an energy supply source. More importantly, the use must be economical compared with other available sources. Hence, the technology available for converting the resource to a more usable form is important in the selection of an energy resource for energy supply. Change of technology and availability of resource over time can change the economics of using the resource for energy supply. Therefore, the resources used by a country for energy requirements also change with time.
In the international market, many forms of energy resources are available for us to import and use for its energy needs. However, up to now, Sri Lanka has been largely using only petroleum fuels for this purpose. Increasing petroleum prices have prompted Sri Lanka to introduce coal in in power generation and also to examine the feasibility of using other resources such as coal and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to replace liquid petroleum in certain applications. Following are the most common energy resources globally available for energy supply on a commercial scale:
More recently, new energy supply technologies such as biofuels and energy carriers such as hydrogen have emerged as alternatives to the above conventional technologies and transfer options. However, use of these technologies for energy supply purposes is still limited in Sri Lanka.
The following table gives a brief account of the various applications of global resources in Sri Lanka.
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|Imported Energy Source||Typical User Groups||Typical Applications||Scale of Use at Present|
|Crude Oil and refined products including LPG||Household||Lighting, cooking||Widespread|
|Industry||Furnaces, kilns, boilers||Widespread|
|Transport||Rail, road, air and sea||Widespread|
|Industry||Kilns||Cement industry and foundries|
|Boilers||Two or more|
|Power Generation||Boiler||3 units of 300 MW (900 MW)|
Renewable energy resources and fossil fuel reserves that are found within our country are referred to as indigenous resources.
Our country is blessed with several forms of renewable energy resources, warranted by geo-climatic conditions in the island. Since we are an island located in the tropics and surrounded by the Indian Ocean, we receive rain from two monsoonal wind regimes, viz., the Southwest and Northeast monsoons. The island itself is characterised by a central highland, lowland mountain ranges, flat terrains and plateaus, which affect cloud formation. The annual mean rainfall ranges from 750 to 6,000 mm, which in turn sources a perennial river system. The high rainfall, coupled with other bioclimatic conditions of the tropics, has yielded a high plant density in the island. Biomass, therefore, is available aplenty. Since Sri Lanka is located in the equatorial belt, it receives a year-round supply of solar irradiation. The tropical temperatures and the islands location in the ocean have resulted in distinct wind regimes. These settings have endowed the country with an ample renewable energy resource base.
Some of these renewable energy resources are widely used and developed to supply the energy requirements of the country. Others have the potential for development when the technologies become mature and economically feasible for use. Following are the main renewable energy resources available in Sri Lanka.
In addition to the above indigenous renewable resources, the availability of fossil fuel deposits within the Sri Lanka territory is being investigated and yielded three deep water natural gas finds in the Northwestern offshore region.
Hydro is a technology with a history spanning more than a century in power generation in Sri Lanka. Hydro schemes which were major power generation projects and are also known as ‘conventional’ power generation schemes, which usually employed a dam and a reservoir for storage. Now however, the potential for such large schemes is exhausted. Therefore, we have to resort to other means of generating power, among which the grid connection of small hydro plants, wind power generation schemes and solar projects are receiving much attention. Such technologies are termed new renewable energy (NRE) technologies, because they were not used in the past in conventional grid power generation. Though not used for power generation, biomass, solar and wind energy have been used for human activities since time immemorial. Biomass and solar energy have been used for cooking and agro processing activities, whereas wind was used to a lesser degree.
However, Sri Lanka was the first country to use wind power for an industrial application i.e. in iron smelting furnaces dating back to the 3rd century B.C.
We have different uses for different renewable energy resources, as indicated in the table below.
|Indigenous Energy Source||Typical User Groups||Typical Applications||Scale of Use by end 2017|
|Industry||Tea drying, Brick and tile||Widespread|
|Private power plant||For sale to utility||10 power plants|
|Own consumption||Several villages and factories|
|Hydro power||Electricity utility owned large multipurpose systems||For retail to customers||Major power plants|
|Commercial grid-connected||For sale to utility||182 power plants|
|Village-level off-grid electricity||Household use||A few plants operating in the grid-connected mode, however, many now in disuse|
|Industrial off-grid electricity||Tea industry||A few power plants|
|Industrial mechanical drives||Tea Industry||Negligible, one or two remaining|
|Solar Power||Solar photovoltaic||Rooftop systems||10,389 installations|
|Solar photovoltaic||Household lighting||No longer reported in large numbers.|
|Grid connected PV||For sale to utility||08 power plants|
|Solar Thermal||Hot water systems in commercial and domestic sectors||Widespread|
|Informal use||Household and agricultural use||Widespread|
|Wind Power||Grid Connected Wind||For retail to customers||15 power plants|
|Off-grid power plants||For residential use||A few dozens, most in disuse|
|Water pumping||Agriculture||A few dozens, one or two in operation|
Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority
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