No plans to halt Battle of Solar Power project – Ministry

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Ministry of Power and Energy has announced that no decision has been taken to halt the first phase of the ‘Battle of Solar Power’ project introduced to strengthen the national electricity grid.

A meeting was held at the Ministry of Power and Energy chaired by subject Minister Ravi Karunanayake to clarify the false propaganda regarding the solar power project.

Subject Minister Ravi Karunanayake has asserted that the Ministry has not taken any decision to change the program and urged the public not to pay attention to false propaganda spread by certain groups.

Power, Energy and Enterprise Development Ministry Media Spokesman Sulakshana Jayawardena at the meeting said a certain group is attempting to deceive the public and stressed that the Ministry has not taken any steps to change the methodology of the Battle of Solar Power Program.

Battle of Solar Power Program is a four-stage process. Accordingly, several projects have been launched to utilize solar power for the country’s renewable energy and power development. Under the first phase of this program, any electricity consumer has the opportunity to generate electricity using solar power generation systems on their roofs. The net metering, net plus and net counting methods can be used to produce electricity and provide the excess to the national grid.

“In launching this program in 2016, we planned to add 200 MW to the national grid by 2020. We are already reaching that goal. We are planning to launch another 800 MW system by the year 2025 and add 1000 MW of solar power to the national grid.”

“In this backdrop, the government implemented various projects. The government has implemented various activities such as granting loans under the ADB, and formulating legislation to safeguard the quality and standards of equipment and companies providing Solar Power. Under these circumstances, we look forward to make the first phase of the Solar Power Battle a success.”

Sulakshana Jayawardena added that measures are being implemented to add 300 solar power projects providing 1 MW each in Phase 2 and competitive bids have been called. By now tenders have been awarded for more than 126 MW. The procurement process is being implemented for competitive bidding for another 150 MW.

Under Phase 3, steps are being taken to add five 10-MW power plants to the national system and under Phase 4large scale solar parks will be built based in Pooneryn and Siyambalanduwa areas. This will include the construction of solar power plants floating on reservoirs. Maduru Oya has been selected for this purpose.

Under the first phase of the Solar Power Battle program, during the first seven years, Rs. 22.00 per unit will be paid for electricity generated from the roof-top solar power systems. For the next 8 – 20 years Rs. 15.50 will be paid per unit of electricity.

“At the beginning of the project we agreed to review the progress and the shortcomings of the project after adding the first 100 MW to the national grid. But we didn’t do it after adding 100 MW. The government decided to review after adding 200 MW. When reviewing the project we find that the cost of purchasing solar power under Net Metering is Rs. 45.00 per unit. By the other two methods it is Rs. 22.00.”

A committee has been appointed to inquire into the inconsistencies in these systems. The committee is currently conducting the study.

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