Coal power plant back in operation

By Hiran Priyankara Jayasinghe

The Chinese-built Norochcholai coal power plant is to resume operations after breaking down three weeks ago. This was the fourth time the power plant has crashed since it was set up. Repairs after the recent breakdown have cost the government Rs.168 million.

Working at excessive capacity was the reason for the repeat failures, according to a high-placed source at the power plant. The power plant had to be kept closed for at least 18 days for the generator to cool down before repairs could begin. “Capacity in the first stage of production was 300 megawatts, but higher capacity usage resulted in the security system crashing,” the source said.

The Lak Wijaya Power Plant stalled on January 18 after a power failure. A fire broke out in October 2010 before the plant was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Repairs took six months. A second fire broke out in August 2011.

While officials say local engineers lack experience in generating power from coal, the local engineers attached to the power plant say the system should not break down with Chinese engineers supervising.
The plant has the capacity to produce 900 megawatts. The plant will be developed in two stages. China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) is handling the construction work, and the project is being financed by EXIM Bank of China.

The first stage cost US$455 million, and the next stage will cost US$891 million. The Sri Lanka Government will contribute Rs. 5,300 million for the initial stage, and Rs.11,000 million for the second stage.

Meanwile, faulty parts in the machinery have been sent to a repair shop in Puttalam.

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