Business Times

Harnessing wind energy from Sri Lanka’s west coast

By Bandula Sirimanna

PUTTALAM -- Sri Lanka next week begins harnessing winds blowing on the west coast at high speeds, 50 meters above ground level as an energy source to generate electricity at a newly constructed wind power park in the Mampuri area off Kalpitiya in the Puttalam district.

Senok Wind Power, Sri Lanka's first commercial wind energy plant, will be officially commissioned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow but connecting of the 10 MW plant to the national grid will be delayed at least till the end of April as the power transmission related work is yet to be completed. Total investment of the project is around Rs.3 billion.

S. Kumaralingam

“Wind energy is good and clean but you have to be cautious when connecting it to the national grid,” said Tilak Siyambalapitiya, Director Resource Management Associates (Pvt) Ltd, consultant of the project speaking to Business Times, at the 5 square-km, beach site.

He was on his way to attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of the second phase of the Norochcholai power power project (which is nearby) on Thursday under the patronage of the president.

He said the capital investment for wind power is high, but it is a green energy and will not affect the environment. Once it is operational, in the long run it will be able to sell a unit of electricity at a low price, he said.

Senok Trade Combine Ltd, Promotions and Plantations Director Harin Philip De Costa, said the company signed a Small Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) with the Ceylon Electricity Board in December 2008 to supply power where they would receive around Rs 20 per unit of power in the first eight years and 50% of that, after eight years.

Though wind power is costly to consumers because the capital investment is high, the cost nevertheless will remain constant for 20 years unlike other current energy like fuel or thermal power which can vary, he said.

Mr De Costa said the company has a close relationship with the residents of Mampuri and other nearby villages and plans are underway to undertake several projects such as the development of pre-schools, construction of a maternity clinic and a play ground.

S. Kumaralingam, an Indian engineer, attached to Suzlon infrastructure Services Ltd handling the installation of wind mills, said that the setting up of five units of Suzlon's S64 1.25MW wind turbines supplied by Suzlon Energy company of India has been completed. Fifty Indian workers deployed by the company are working at the site. He said that the Indian government is providing a subsidy of one third of the capital cost and that is why many private investors are launching wind power projects in India.

Amila Perera, a civil engineer attached to Senok, told the Business Times that 20 Sri Lankans are working at the site and they have completed all civil engineering work including the construction of the access road network, casting of turbine foundations and other infrastructure facilities. However he added that three locations are yet to be completed.

The windpower development programme, facilitated by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA), is part of the National Energy Policy and Strategy of the government and is a significant contributor to the diversity of energy resources used in power generation.

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