The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Sri Lanka presented its draft White Paper findings on the Power and Energy sector stating the fact that the energy supply in the country is not adequate, sustainable and stable.
According to the draft White Paper most of the stakeholders especially in the manufacturing industry had felt that the quality of the power they receive is not to their satisfaction, resulting in high dependency on standby generators to support their power needs.
AmCham Vice President Ravin Basnayake pointed out the outcomes of the draft White Paper on the Power and Energy Sector and mentioned Sri Lanka’s current energy policy is predominately focused on the electricity sector, and not necessarily a holistic document which looks after the entire energy requirement of the country.
“One of the key weaknesses in the existing energy policy of Sri Lanka is that it is focused on electricity and seems biased towards current suppliers of electricity. The policy paper had been drafted predominantly based on Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB) capabilities and abilities,” he noted.
Despite the build-up of excitement on the natural gas resources that everyone had been talking about in the recent past, there had never been a discussion of how it is taken into our national energy policy.
“They say that we have commercial quantities of natural gas, but there is no proper dialogue or direction about the suitability in the energy policy,” he pointed out.
In terms of the private sector role in the power and energy sector, Mr. Basnayake asserted that there is no consistent or defined approach in the existing energy policy to engage the private sector.
“The association between the energy sector and private sector has been a ‘love hate’ relationship. It is a very ad-hoc process. There are no defined guidelines as to how the private sector operates in this model and also there seems to be a limitation around what the private sector can do and cannot do,” he explained.
Mr. Basnayake said the draft White Paper was compiled with the support and findings of a number of stakeholders both users as well as suppliers of energy, regulators, as well as environmentalists adding that they are open for more feedback to take it up on themselves to investigate it further before finalising it.
Speaking at the Panel discussion was Dr. Dr B.M.S Batagoda, Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary Dr B.M.S Batagoda
“We are in the process of revising the National Energy Policy and within a month’s period, the draft of the policy would be circulated among stakeholders for their inputs,” Sri Lanka’s first National Energy Policy was introduced in 2006 and was revised in 2008.
Despite countries like the US, India and many others are moving away from coal power generation, Sri Lanka still continues to invest on it. “We have planned three new coal power plants. Sampur, MGM and another one which we are currently discussing with a Japanese investor,” he added.
He stressed that the Government’s future directions are towards cleaner energy sources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewables like solar and wind.
“We are considering whether to shift to LNG. We are already having discussion with a long term LNG supplier and will be soon calling for tenders,” the Secretary pointed out.
In addition, Dr Batagoda revealed that in going forward, they would be also converting all the existing thermal power plants into LNG power plants.
Noting there will be many openings for private sector investments Dr.Batagoda said: “In future, we are looking at private sector led investments on BOT basis. Hence, we are looking at generating our own power and being self-sufficient by 2050.”