Licenses will be issued to SME entrepreneurs for the first time to set up mini solar power plants in the country.
Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority Chairman Keerthie Wickramaratne said the power generated from these plants will be purchased by the government at attractive prices.
“We hope this move would encourage even the smaller companies and individuals to set up solar power plants and also help the nation to produce energy at reduced prices.”
He said that the new licenses will be issued to set up solar plants to generate electricity for less than 5 megawatts. He estimated that such a project could be set up in less than one year and it will cost around US$ 1.5 million.
Wickramaratne said in addition this will also help to generate new employment opportunities and opening out a new area for business in the solar power generation. He said that banks too are keen to fund these power plants. “Solar Plants would be environmental friendly and could be set up all over Sri Lanka excluding some areas in Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya areas.”
He also revealed that generation of one kilowatt from solar power will help the country to save around Rs. 40 to 50 million annually.
Wickramaratne said they had to iron out red tape and also stand against stiff opposition before they were able to get the licence process off the ground. Currently Laugfs and Sago Solar are buying two plants.
He said that he will also take steps to introduce a net accounting instead of net metering to households. “Currently households who use solar power to power their homes are being compensated by the Ceylon Electricity Board. Under the new net accounting these households will be actually able to earn ‘cash’.
Sri Lanka’s spends around 18% of its total expenditure per year on power generation and the potential of renewable energy (solar power and wind power) has being tremendously under played. He said that they will also look at using renewable energy for the lighting of street lights which is using a lot of power.
Today country uses both thermal (Coal and Diesel) and hydro power including mini hydro to around 99% to fulfill the power requirement. There is only one solar power plant set up by the government in Hambantota. With the Sampur power plant on hold which was to generate around 400 megawatts by 2018 the country needs urgent ways to fill this void.
“With these kinds of initiatives we expect that there would be one million houses that will use solar power to power their homes by 2020. Currently this figure is around 120,000”.