News Features  


Norochcholai phase II to add 17% to national grid

By Tharaka Basnayaka
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) took over the operational and administrative duties of the Norochcholai coal Power plant from the China Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation last week. Prof. Wimaladarma Abeywickrama, chairman of the CEB in a press briefing held at the Norachcholai Power plant, Puttalam said that the plant was now contributing 300 MW to the national power grid which amounted to 17% of the nation’s energy requirement.

A further 600MW is to be added to the national grid after the completion of the second phase of Norochcholai Power Plant..
The chairman refuted the allegations of using diesel as an energy source to generate electricity in Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant saying that diesel was only used as the fuel for the start up for the boiler and it was not used afterwards.

Lack of rain resulting in low water levels in hydro reservoirs and a sudden breakdown in the Lakvijaya power plant led to occasional power disruptions in the country which are now being overcome.
Speaking to the media, the Deputy General Manager of the Lakvijaya Coal power plant, Saliya Panditharathna said, “Norochcholai power plant produces a power unit (1kWh) consuming 40g of coal, at a cost of Rs. 9.50, sold for Rs. 13.50 which is cheaper and profitable compared to the hydrocarbon power plants. A Hydro power unit costs around Rs. 2.50 while Sapugaskanka furnace power plant produces a power unit at Rs. 10.50. Comparatively one power unit produced by wind mills at the Norochcholai power plant costs Rs.22, yet it is a world renowned renewable energy source.”

He urged the people, NGOs and other civil and religious organisations who are pointing fingers at the Norochcholai coal power plant to have a closer look at the Utukorin Thermal power plant which is situated at Tamil Nadu that emits around 25-30% of ash to the atmosphere that could have a direct effect on Sri Lanka due to the usage of impure coal content.
Despite the recent floods in south Australia that made the coal prices rise, the global coal prices are likely to be stable as the major contributors like China , India, etc. being economically stable compared to the global petroleum industry. Indonesia is the main source of coal for the Norochcholai power plant which is affordable and low sulfur concentrated thus being environmental friendly and keeping the sulfur dioxide emission to less than 1.2%.

Although the latest technology is more effective in resolving the energy crises, it is expensive and the Chinese technology used for Norochcholai Power plant is moderate and affordable and is suitable to the country, he added. The separation of coal ash has brought new revenue as 12 tons of coal ash is separated and stored per hour. Coal ash can be two types, one is Fly Ash, widely brought by the cement companies while Bottom Ash is taken by the National Engineering Research and Development Center (NERD) who are currently researching on using bottom ash to use as a filling substance.
Expressing his views on the 2,000-odd Chinese labourers he said that despite of the obstacles in communicating with the Chinese labour is more efficient and effective compared to the locals yet the villagers don’t find them too friendly. The Chinese have established a noodles manufacturing facility at the plant so there’s no need for them to buy them from outside.

Panditharathne also commented about the issue of school children not being taken inside the complex. “We always look forward to the school children who come to explore the power plant but the elders who are accusing us should get to see the danger that is associated with it. So we are cautious when dealing with the future generation of this country. That is why we have come up with a plan to employ a guide and take the children to selected places”.

Furthermore Panditharathna refuted the allegations of power plant’s machinery and equipment being old and used. “Establishing a power plant near the coastal region is always demanding for the machinery and equipment. We received brand new machinery from the Chinese government which are being exposed to the salty coastal atmosphere causing them to rust. But efforts are being taken to keep them in the best condition,” he said.
The fishermen who made a living out of ‘Madu Dal’ industry have been provided with boats and gear. During the off season the fisherman are able to cultivate in the land given to them by the government. The villagers who were displaced due to the project have been resettled with minimal effect to their social environment, said Anura Wijepala, Deputy chairman (CEB). He denied the allegations of providing free electricity from the Norochcholai power plant for religious purposes or events.

The Sri Lankan government spent Rs. 5,300 million for the 1st phase of the project and the Chinese government contributed with USD 455 million out of which USD 155 million were given at a low interest rate of 2% while the balance USD 300 million was given at an interest rate of 6%. The contract agreement for the second phase of the project was signed between EMEC and CEB in June 2009. A further 600MW is to be added to the national grid after the completion of the second phase. The Chinese contribution for the 2nd phase is USD 891 million funded by Chinese government through EXIM bank of China and the Rupee funding is by the government of Sri Lanka.
CEB Chairman Prof. Wimaladharma Abeywickrama, CEB Vice Chairman Anura Wijepala ,CEB Operational Director Prasanna Guanasena, CEB Additional General Manager Nihal Wickremasuriya and Deputy General Manager of Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant Saliya Panditharathna, were among the officials present at the event.