Sri Lanka is exploring the possibility of selling power to India with the commissioning of coal and thermal power plants in Norochcholai, Trincomalee and Hambantota, Power and Energy Ministry sources said.
Sri Lanka will conduct a pre-feasibility study on inter-connecting electricity grids of the two countries, under the Memorandum of Understanding signed during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent visit to India.
Energy expert Tilak Siyambalapitiya, who is also Director of Resource Management Associates (Pvt) Ltd, told the Business Times that the economic viability from connecting the two grids should be studied in-depth as the cost of laying an undersea High Votage Direct Current (HVDC) power line connecting India and Sri Lanka will be around Rs.400 to 500 million.
He noted that Sri Lanka should sell power to India which is facing difficulties and imposing power cuts to meet the electricity demand during September to December every year. Mr Siyambalapitiya pointed out that the technical viability of the project has already been established and the country should now look into the economic aspects carefully.
A senior official of the Ministry of Power and Energy said that larger facilities such as the combined power plants and coal power plants should operate at a certain level throughout the day and it cannot be shut down during off peak hours in Sri Lanka. With the commissioning of these power plants Sri Lanka will have to find innovative ways of increasing the off peak power demand to maintain these power generators at the normal level.
Supplying power to India at a reasonable price during off peak hours will help the Ceylon Electricity Board to narrow the demand of electricity during peak and off peak hours, he said.
The Ministry has devised a special plan to change the daily power load profile to a more manageable level from the ever widening gap between the evening demand peak and off peak demand which require a large variation of generating capacity.
Initial steps have been taken to lay an undersea HVDC power line connecting India and Sri Lanka. This is a 400 KV line transferring 500 MW of power initially and 1000 MW subsequently. Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province are expected to be connected by the proposed power line.
This is a combined project of the two countries and it is at an investment of around $330 million. Power Grid Corporation, which is India’s central transmission utility, will be acting as the project implementation agency. A pre-feasibility survey is already been carried out by the PowerGrid Corporation regarding this project. The project is expected to be completed by 2013. India will extend a US$ 200 million line of credit to assist setting up of the NTPC-CEB joint venture of 500 MW Thermal Power Plant at Trincomalee.