ECONOMYNEXT-Sri Lanka’s power situation will remain precarious for the next 3 to 4 years if the officials do not diversify energy generation methods and bring in renewables, the island’s utility regulator has warned.

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday (09) Janaka Rathnayake, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said that Sri Lanka can continue with 3-hour power cuts till December this year with the existing resources.

The island would have to import around 500 million US dollars worth of fuel if it is to go till December with no power cuts, he said.

Sri Lanka uses a mix of hydropower, thermal energy and a small amount of wind power to generate energy.

A period of drought compounded by a forex crisis that left the country unable to import fuel for power generation resulted in the ongoing power cuts that once lasted up to 13 hours long.

Rathnayake warned that if a similar drought occurs in February to April next year, the situation would be dire for the next 3 to 4 years, as Sri Lanka does not have the foreign reserves required to purchase fuel.

The nation is currently surviving on Indian credit lines for fuel.

“We can go on until December but the trouble is that this will not stop then,” Rathnayake said.

“If there is a period with no rainfall in Feb March April next year, if we do not use renewables or something and increase generation plants somehow, this situation can continue for the next four to five years.”

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara stated in a press briefing Friday (10) that government offices, schools and other institutions were implementing a request to install solar panels to help with the energy crisis.

Critics say that the request is impractical, as existing buildings do not have the roof space or capital required to install a sufficient number of solar panels per institution.

Wijesekara had also tweeted in May that he hoped “to encourage foreign direct investments as well as opportunities to local developers to participate in the Renewable Energy Plans.”

Sri Lanka’s plans for renewable energy generation have historically been benched due to delays due to bureaucracy and corruption within institutions.

Former State Minister of Energy Duminda Dissanayake told Parliament that: “When you go for tender, they drag it for years and we will be compelled to buy diesel on which some (corrupt) officials want.”

The island’s latest wind power project with the Indian Adani company is also marred by controversy.(Colombo/Jun11/2022)