India is pushing for the implementation of its first undersea power transmission project with Sri Lanka, amidst concerns from the Sri Lanka Power and Energy Ministry and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) engineers.
India's power transmission company Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has completed a feasibility study for the interconnection of the India-Sri Lanka Electricity Grids, which includes setting up of High Voltage Direct Current Transmission system between the two countries involving under sea transmission.
The Indian government has handed over the feasibility study report to the Ministry recently, a senior CEB official said. He disclosed that according to the report, electricity could be supplied from India to Sri Lanka at concessionary rates through a submarine cable under the sea by 2014.
When asked about the current position of the project, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka noted that there are few technical issues in its implementation. He revealed that the Sri Lankan government has to bear a huge cost to lay a submarine cable under the Setusamudram canal if the Indian government is going ahead with the canal project. He said that this is a major concern of the government at present. But it will be beneficial for the proposed wind power project in Mannar if India is willing to purchase power at a reasonable rate. At the moment India is purchasing wind power at a very low price, he said adding that Sri Lanka is not willing to sell wind power cheaply.
However he expressed optimism that the undersea power transmission project will be beneficial by 2016 or 2020 as the price of coal is expected to rise.
CEB officials have also objected to the proposed project with India, saying Sri Lanka will have to adhere to conditions laid down by the Indians for the implementation of the power project. This might also be a strategic measure to counter the growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, they alleged.
According to the project proposal the 250-300 km power link, including submarine cables over a stretch of over 50 km, will be jointly implemented by Power Grid and the Ceylon Electricity Board. The detailed feasibility report from the Lankan side is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The line is expected to take 1,000 MW. The power link, including submarine cables over a stretch of 50 km, will enable the two countries to trade surplus power.