Is it an answer to the looming power crisis in Sri Lanka?
As the population grows, the demand for electricity is also
increasing putting a strain on the economy. So far, the main source of
power generation in Sri Lanka is hydroelectricity although fossil fuel
is used to supplement the growing demand for electricity, especially
during drought seasons.
The heavy cost incurred in producing electricity by fossil fuels and
providing them to consumers at a reasonable price has caused losses on
the part of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) which produced
electricity or purchase electricity from private organisations.
However, alternative sources of power have not been adequately
explored in Sri Lanka though Sri Lanka is endowed with natural sources
of power supply such as wind, solar power and waves. Another source of
alternative power that Sri Lanka can harness is biofuel which can be
produced from biomasses such as sugar cane.
Electricity generation is one of the most common sources of
electricity generation is hydroelectricity which accounted for over 90
per cent of power generation in Sri Lanka.
However, other main sources of power generations are steam, wind, hot
gases, solar and biofuel. Over the years diverse technologies have been
developed for power generation.
In portable applications, solid state power generation is being used
in the form of batteries and fuel cells. This area is largely dominated
by thermoelectric (TE) devices, although other technologies such as
thermionic (TI) and thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems have been
developed. Piezoelectric devices are used for power generation from
mechanical strain, particularly in power harvesting. Betavoltaics is
another type of solid-state power generator which produces electricity
from radioactive decay.
Fluid-based magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) power generation has been
researched into as a method for extracting electrical power from nuclear
reactors and also from more conventional fuel combustion systems.
Electrochemical electricity generation is also important in portable
and mobile applications. In most current applications, electrochemical
power derived from closed electrochemical cells ("batteries") which are
more popular as storage devices than power generating systems.
However, electromechanical systems such as fuel cell have been
undergoing great deal of transformations turning them from being
storages of electricity to systems that can be used to extract power
either from natural fuels or from synthesized fuels (mainly electrolytic
In the Sri Lankan context, major alternative sources of power
negation could be coal power generation which is relatively cost
effective than diesel and other sources such as solar and wind.
These sources can either be used as supplementary sources to nourish
the national grid or for rural electrification schemes where small
housing unites or small scale industries outside the main grid can be
powered. Given the risk and costly technologies associated with setting
up nuclear power plants for power generation, unclear energy is still
not an option for Sri Lanka.
Solar power as an alternative source, Solar cells, also referred to
as photovoltaic cells, are devices or banks of devices that use the
photovoltaic effect of semiconductors to generate electricity directly
However, the use of solar cells for mass power generation has been
limited owing to its high manufacturing cost. One of the effective and
common application of solar power has been in very low-power devices
such as calculators with LCDs.
Another use has been in remote applications such as roadside
emergency telephones, remote sensing, cathodic protection of pipe lines,
and limited "off grid" home power applications and used in orbiting
satellites and spacecrafts. Solar cells for cost effective uses are
expanding against the back drop of declining manufacturing costs.
The average lowest retail cost of a large photovoltaic array declined
from $7.50 to $4 per watt between 1990 and 2005.
In 2003, worldwide production of solar cells increased by 32%.
Between 2000 and 2004, the increase in worldwide solar energy capacity
was an annualized 60%. 2005 was expected to see large growth again, but
shortages of refined silicon have been hampering production worldwide
since the late 2004.
Instead of importing, Sri Lanka should explore the potential of large
scale manufacturing solar panels for commercial and industrial use
though solar power is used in a limited capacity.
Using wind turbines, wind power is directly converted into
electricity. Towards the end of the end of 2006, worldwide capacity of
wind-powered generators was 74,223 megawatts though it is accounted less
than 1 per cent of the world wide electricity use; approximately 20% of
electricity use in Denmark, 9% in Spain, and 7% in Germany.
Between 2000 and 2006 wind power generation has been quadrupled. In
windmills (a much older technology) wind energy is used to turn
mechanical machinery to do physical work, like crushing grain or pumping
Wind power is used in large scale wind farms for national electrical
grids and small individual turbines for providing electricity to rural
residences or grid-isolated locations.
Wind energy is renewable and widely distributed and clean. It also
reduces toxic atmospheric and greenhouse gas emissions if used to
replace fossil-fuel-derived electricity. The intermittency of wind
seldom creates problems when using wind power at low to moderate
In Sri Lanka, Hambantota and coastal areas in the Eastern province
have been identified for setting up of wind power plants.
In order to attract large scale investor, mass scale production of
electricity and providing of electricity at a reasonable price is a must
and the authorities should also tried to minimize sudden black outs and
strive to provide a continuous supply without fluctuating voltage,
causing damage to household electronic equipment.