June 6th, 2012
An annual 9% GDP growth is placing huge energy demands on Sri Lanka, forcing the country to explore new solutions to meet its power needs.
In 1995, Sri Lanka’s power system was 100% hydro, but as demand increased other sources have been added. “58% of our primary energy still comes from renewables, but we have to build at least 300MW in extra capacity in the next two years” notes Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka, who is responsible for overcoming the challenges ahead.
90MW of the country’s power comes from wind energy, which will increase to a forecast 650MW by 2020, alongside 300MW of solar energy. Plans are underway to link this to a modern super-grid. Still, renewables cannot meet the demands of any growing country, and oil and gas exploration has already started. Ranawaka hopes that by 2016, gas will be a commercial viable energy source.
In recent months, however, hope has grown that viable reserves of oil are about to be discovered in the country’s Palk Strait. India’s state-owned oil company, ONGC-Videsh, has visited Sri Lanka in recent weeks, and the Indian government is reported to have asked Sri Lanka to create oil exploration blocks in the Strait, to prevent other countries basing themselves there.
Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, Vietnam’s state-owned PVEP, private French giant Total are all reported to be clamouring for the next big oil discovery.