Remarks by Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the “World Energy Day”
Created: Wednesday, 23 October 2013
22nd October 2013, New York
Officials of the World Energy Forum,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the organizers of the event for giving me the opportunity to share Sri Lanka’s experience on energy, specially on sustainable energy, as we celebrate the “World Energy Day”.
As we are moving towards embracing the Post-2015 development agenda, the whole world calls for a new global partnership to eradicate extreme poverty and uplift the livelihoods of all citizens under a new spread of universal goals. Energy remains central to transforming economies and societies.
The “United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All”, will commence next year.
The UN Secretary General’s proposed report, as requested by the Resolution 67/215, sought national level inputs to define the overall global renewable energy policy. Sri Lanka took the leadership in introducing the operative paragraph 18 to this Resolution (“Calls upon the Secretary General to promote renewable energy and related sustainable practices in all United Nations facilities around the world, from within existing resources”).
We also co-sponsored the GA Resolution presented by Turkmenistan “Reliable and stable transit of energy and its role in ensuring sustainable development and international cooperation”.
All our global engagements underline Sri Lanka’s vision to be a regional energy hub.
Sri Lanka’s Energy Policy/Regulatory framework
The National Energy Policy of Sri Lanka emphasizes the Government’s approach to ensuring energy security and promoting the development of indigenous resources. Providing the basic energy needs of the population at low cost is a primary concern for the Government. The aim is to provide electricity to all households by the end of 2013. Promoting the development of economically viable renewable sources is a key part of this strategy. A Cabinet Sub Committee on Power and Energy is now formulating a roadmap for Energy Security. The Government introduced an “Energy Managers and Energy Auditors Regulation” in 2011 and ‘On-grid Renewable Energy Project Regulations’ in 2011.
The Establishment of the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) is an important initiative of the government. SLSEA conducted the national Energy Audit Training Programme in collaboration with the SAARC Energy Centre. The Sustainable Power Sector Project of SLSEA is funded by the ADB.
The creation of School Energy Conservation Clubs in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the National Energy Efficiency Awards to recognize and encourage energy conscious entrepreneurs and the efforts taken to curb unsustainable energy consumption are some of the outreach initiatives.
Current energy demand and supply
Our energy supply is mainly based on three primary sources, namely, biomass, petroleum and hydroelectricity. The total electricity generated from 1st January to 30th October 2012 was 11528 GWh, of which 59% was from oil and coal thermal power plants, while 35% was from large hydropower stations, and the balance 6% was from non-conventional renewable energy sources. The CEB is in the process of achieving its target of the total electrification of Sri Lanka in 2013
With the ever increasing demand for energy, Sri Lanka’s energy sector faced many challenges during 2012 owing to the highly volatile prices of crude oil, drought conditions which led to expensive thermal power generation, the depreciation of the rupee, and the economic sanctions imposed on Iran, the country’s main crude oil supplier.
Measures are being taken to reduce Sri Lanka’s over reliance on fossil fuels in the medium term by increasing power generation through hydro and renewable sources and the encouragement of an energy conservation culture.
A National Energy Management Plan (EnMAP) for 2012-2016, under the guidance of the Ministry of Power and Energy, is being introduced to achieve an energy saving of upto 20% of the total energy consumption. The overall objective is to enhance economic activity without forcing an additional burden on the energy sector.
Some of our recent initiatives are as follows:
(1) Offshore Petroleum Exploration
Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is blessed with significant natural resources. The recent discovery of oil and gas in its territorial waters has drawn the attention of the international business community.
Much importance has been given to the exploration of the country’s resources in its territorial sea which had remained unexploited due to the prolonged terrorism threat. Around two thirds of our territorial water has been earmarked for hydrocarbon exploration. The discovery of oil and gas in the Mannar Basin in the Northwest of the country, has attracted several national and international oil companies to Sri Lanka. The exploitation of the oil would help to reduce the country’s external oil dependency.
(2) Increasing the capacity of renewable energy
Hydroelectricity has played a major role in power generation in Sri Lanka. The geo-climatic settings in Sri Lanka, are considered conducive to the hydro resources industry in the country. We built the first hydroelectric power statiion in 1950. Most of the major hydro potential has been exploited already.
Many key hydropower generation facilities with large man made reservoirs were constructed in the 1980s. However, the major hydro possibilities have now been exhausted and the small hydro power sector is becoming a success story. The small hydro industry is typically characterized by hydro power projects with capacities of less than 10MW. The economically feasible small hydro potential in Sri Lanka is estimated to be 400 MW.
(3) Solar Power
Sri Lanka’s close proximity to the equator enables it to receive an abundance of solar energy the year around. The Government’s Electricity Board introduced solar PV technology during the early 1980’s. Later this sector saw significant growth due to the efforts of the private sector. About 127,000 households currently use solar power.
Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority will establish the first ever grid connected solar energy park in the Hambantota District, which also promises to be the first solar energy park in Asia.
(4) Wind Power
The contribution of wind power to the national needs remains relatively low. Sri Lanka is an island nation with substantial wind energy resources, and the potential of all wind sites in Sri Lanka is a staggering 25,000MW. Conventionally, wind as an energy source, was used only in power generation, and pumping agricultural water. Developing the wind energy sector has become an important strategy in meeting the goal of generating 10% of grid power from non-conventional renewables by 2015. The first wind plant in Sri Lanka was established in the Hambantota District in the South. Kalpitiya, in the North East Coast, is also an attractive location for private entreprise to set up wind power plants.
(5) Geothermal and Oceanic energy
Sri Lanka’s geothermal potential is in the eastern part of the country. The cost of economically viable operations is yet to be determined. Similarly, power generation from the sea will be a highly attractive sector for private entrepreneurs.