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Renewable Resources in Sri Lanka

Biomass, hydropower, and thermal power (fossil fuels), are the conventional energy sources in supplying energy. The utilization of renewable resources such as solar, wind, dendro and mini-hydro are relatively small. The transport sector entirely utilizes energy sources such as gasoline and the diesel.           
The steep rise in the oil prices in the recent past has resulted in a great burden to the Sri Lankan economy in supply of these conventional energy sources without fluctuations. The absence of petroleum resources deposits in the country has aggravated the situation. This has created a need to explore avenues immediately to ease the energy problem. The available options are the utilization of renewable energy sources and efficiency improvement in the current use. The renewable resources are also important in reducing air pollution, mitigating adverse climate effects and the provision of clean energy.
The solar power is the largest renewable energy source in terms of quantity and also useful in providing electrification to rural people in remote areas. The provision of electricity from the national grid is not possible due to capacity limits and cost effectiveness. The utilization of large hydropower projects has been limited due to the carrying capacity limits and absence of hydropower sources. The future hydropower expansion will be therefore mainly composed of introducing mini hydropower schemes.
The wind power is also a useful energy source in providing energy supply to the national grid in future.
The Dendro power has become increasingly popular among the renewable energy sources at present. It utilizes wood (biomass) to generate electricity. The cultivation of fuel wood species in marginal/uneconomic lands will generate employment opportunities as well as additional income to the rural population which in turn address the rural poverty. The direct output of Dendro power is the supply of electricity which eases the energy problem. 
The efficient use of energy has been a priority area and the World Bank assisted renewable energy programme will provide further development of renewable energy sources. The use of solar power at present is far below its potential. The high price of purchasing photovoltaic cells has become a constraint. The unavailability of adequate financial resources therefore is the major constraint in the expansion of solar power utilization. The power generated from the solar power is not strong as from the national grid. Therefore, a technological improvement plays a key role in popularizing the use of solar power. The number of local companies/entities involves in establishing solar power units also a few and need to be expanded.
With regards to wind power the initial establishment cost are high. Some institutional problems such as land acquisition in suitable areas to establish wind power plants have been observed. Many of the wind power potential areas are located far from the transmission lines.
The markets of the renewable energy sources are ill-developed (thin markets).The Dendro power is becoming more and more popular but the utilization at present is sub-optimal. The awareness programmes, release of marginal lands for fuel wood cultivation, and private sector involvement is inadequate. 
Renewable energy sources can be viewed as the most appropriate solution to mitigate the energy problem. The operation and maintenance cost are very low with compared to the conventional energy plants.

Last Updated on: 19-05-2010

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