Unexpected rains prevent power shortfall | Sunday Observer

Unexpected rains prevent power shortfall

The unexpected rainfall last month and this month has somewhat mitigated the risk of an acute shortfall in hydro-power power generation, and a series of emergency  power purchases at prices ranging above 28 cents a unit has averted a possible crisis in the  Country.

Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy, Dr. Suren Batagoda told the Sunday Observer that even though the Lakvijaya Power Plant at Norochcholai shut down one of its turbines due to a steam leak, the availability of emergency power meant there were no electricity blackouts.

According to a report sighted by Sunday Observer, giving details of peak power generation, last Wednesday, only one unit of Norochcholai was functioning providing 11.9 percent of total Mega Watts at peak, generated that night. The total generatuion from IPP and Emergency Thermal units at the same time was 27.9 percent. Dr. Batagoda confirmed that on average, under normal circumstances Norochcholai contributes over 50 percent of the country’s peak power needs. The cost of purchasing privatly supplied emergancy power ranges from 28 cents per unit ( the latest purchased) to 58 cts per unit for power agreements signed during the previous government.

Last Wednesday, emergency power was being supplied by the following suppliers ACE Matara, Asia Power, Sojitz Kelanitissa, West Coast, Nothern Power Aggreko-Galle, Aggreko-Kurunegala 2, Aggreko-Hambantota and Aggreko-Pallekele. In addition to these expensive suppliers 22 percent of peak power came from thermal oil which is the next most expensive power intake after emergency power. While hydropower has contributed the highest at 36.6 percent.

Of our peak power demand, averaging around 2,450 MW, more than 85% is currently generated by thermal means.

However, in terms of capacity planning, hydro power is expected to generate 1,383.7 MW of power, more or less equivalent to the total thermal power output of 1467.7 MW.

Forecasts done in 2014 indicated that peak power demand will rise to 2,954 MW, by 2019. These forecasts are now considered conservative and the real amount is expected to be more than 3100 MW of peak demand by 2019.

“Daily demand per day lies somwhere around 43 GW (2400 MW) however, during the past two weeks the demand was only 34 GW (1800 MW) and it is only after tomorrow that we expect this to change. Even with a higher demand we have taken necessary steps to ensure that no shortfall occures. ” Batagoda said.

When asked if the blackouts occuring in intervals within several areas of the country could be attributed to the incapacity to generate to meet the demand, the Secretary denied that such blackouts had in fact taken place and that at most it would have been interuption of services owing to maintenance.

“During the months of February and March this year which had been the lowest rainfall this year our hydro plants managed to generate and contribute 8 percent to the national grid. Now the accumilated contribution has risen up to 11 percent.” Batagoda explained.

Further more tenders have been called for the LNG power plant to be setup in Kerawalapitiya. This is expected to make a accumilated contribution of 300 MW and is expected to come into operation in 2019.