Stop Ceylon Electricity Board from Banning Solar Installations in Sri Lanka

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The country’s solar-power industry is faced with a huge challenge to survive due to a decision by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Ministry of Power and Energy officials to completely stop the installation of mega scale solar power projects with immediate effect.

“The CEB and Ministry officials have taken steps without consulting the authorities including the Cabinet or President Maithripala Sirisena, the Minister in charge of the subject of Environment, to completely stop the installation of solar power projects other than those of minimal size. The CEB issued a circular last month stating that it will not accept applications for solar power projects over 50 KW in size.The CEB and the Ministry officials informed the Association last week that net metering systems (carry forward of excess energy produced by solar projects in homes) will be cancelled, net accounting systems (sale of extra energy produced by solar projects in homes to the CEB) will also be cancelled and net plus tariffs (CEB buys all energy produced by solar projects) are to be drastically reduced rendering the scheme commercially nonviable. “These steps will lead to the complete destruction of the solar industry in Sri Lanka leading to over 10,000 people losing their jobs. Reduction in contribution of solar power to the national grid will result in greater purchase of emergency power costing of over Rs. 30/KWH, compared to a cost less than Rs. 18/KWH for solar power averaging over a 20-year contract period not subject to any escalation,” he said.

Solar power adds 250 MW to the national grid and is the only renewable energy source that does so. The industry started three years ago and had been looking forward to be a key component in generating renewable energy which the country has a target of reaching 20 percent of supply by 2030.

Local investors have invested up to Rs. 2 billion in the industry so far. It has a potential contribution of US $ 4 million towards the power sector. There are 20,000 roof top solar power systems and 30,000 small scale enterprise involved in the industry with the potential to add 1,000 more systems next year. “We need a positive approach with forward-looking policies with a paradigm shift to overcome this situation. If Sri Lanka is to reach 50 percent of energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2030, the generation of solar power needs to be encouraged.