No approval for rooftop solar PV connections, says CEB | Sunday Observer

No approval for rooftop solar PV connections, says CEB

2 June, 2019

In a surprise move last week Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) higher authorities instructed those responsible, not to approve rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) connections over 50kW (kilo Watt) capacity, until further notice.

In a circular dated May 28, 2019, the Deputy General Manager – Western Province North, under the directive of the Additional General Manager (Distribution Division 2) directs those responsible for approval, to “refrain from giving consent/approval for connecting rooftop Solar PV connections to CEB network which has the capacity over 50kW until further instructions.”

Solar as a renewable electricity generation option with a zero carbon footprint in the generation process is being used to a greater degree worldwide. It is also one of the most cost effective forms of electricity generation. Currently the CEB purchase price of one unit (KiloWatt Hour) of solar electricity stands at Rs. 18 on average, while the cost of emergency thermal power generated from fossil fuel stands over Rs.30.

The CEB and Ministry officials informed SIA that the household rooftop system called ‘Net Metering’ where the householders use the energy produced and reimbursed with the extra number of units to the national grid up to 10 years with no financial commitment; and the ‘Net Accounting’ system where householders sell extra energy would be cancelled and tariffs for ‘Net Plus’ scheme where CEB purchases all the energy produced by solar projects, would be drastically reduced, Secretary of the Solar Industry Association (SIA) Lakmal Fernando told Sunday Observer.

Sri Lanka is signatory to the Paris Convention on Climate Change and international agreements such as Sustainable Development Goals which mandates the production of clean, sustainable energy. Accordingly, the country has agreed to increase the share of clean energy to a 20 percent of its total energy consumption by 2030, which would be increased to 50 percent by the year 2050. At present, less than 10 percent of the country’s total energy requirement is produced by sustainable energy sources.

The Sunday Observer also reliably learns that the CEB has granted approval for three 10 MW solar power plants, going against all accepted tender and approval procedure while SIA claims that the recent decision is a “hurried conspiracy to effectively incapacitate the solar industry.” With the annual demand growth of over 200 MW and no major power plants to be added to the grid at least until 2023, exacerbating the energy crisis, CEB’s only option is ‘emergency’ power purchasing from private companies which operate thermal fossil fuel power plants at a cost fluctuating between Rs. 30 to 45 which will eventually drown the white elephant which is not meeting its objectives of providing the country’s energy demands sufficiently in a sea of debt; dragging the country into the same plight.