Going Backward On Solar Power

Sri Lanka is a sunny country making it harder to use the sun

One thing Sri Lanka doesn’t lack is sun. This is why moves to limit our solar power industry are so backwards.

Sri Lanka actually has a fairly advanced system where you can install solar panels on your roof and feed the electricity back into the grid. The amount you produce is offset against your bill. I’ve done it at my house and it can zero out your bill, and since it’s solar you’re also producing zero CO2.

This is actually a great system — homes and companies can make their own investments and reduce pressure on the grid, and reduce carbon emissions from thermal power generation. Since solar is only producing during the day there is potential for having supply at the wrong times, but we’re nowhere near that. Overall I don’t see anything wrong with this.

I do see something terribly wrong with blocking solar power. Yet this is what the CEB and Power & Energy Ministry. This is terrible backwards, stupid and probably corrupt in some way, which makes sense if you know the Minister in charge. But first lets get to the reported facts:

According to the Sunday Observer:

The CEB and the Ministry officials informed the Association last week that net metering systems (carry forward of excess energy produced by solar projects in homes) will be cancelled, net accounting systems (sale of extra energy produced by solar projects in homes to the CEB) will also be cancelled and net plus tariffs (CEB buys all energy produced by solar projects) are to be drastically reduced rendering the scheme commercially nonviable.

“These steps will lead to the complete destruction of the solar industry in Sri Lanka leading to over 10,000 people losing their jobs. Reduction in contribution of solar power to the national grid will result in greater purchase of emergency power costing of over Rs. 30/KWH, compared to a cost less than Rs. 18/KWH for solar power averaging over a 20-year contract period not subject to any escalation,” President Solar Industry Association, Kushan Jayasuriya said. (Sunday Observer)

This plan makes no sense economically, environmentally or in any other way. The only people that would seem to benefit are those supplying emergency power by burning more fossil fuels.

There is a follow up story in the Daily FT that the Ministry has since revised its rates and give connectivity within two weeks, so it seems that the Ministry is walking back some of the more retrograde actions, but it shouldn’t be happening this way at all. People invest in solar power and need the industry to be stable.

Following a series of meetings chaired by Power and Renewable Energy and Business Development Minister Ravi Karunanayake with participation of all stakeholders, the Ministry has taken steps to increase the Net Plus rates for solar energy producers.

To promote solar power generation among end users and minimise delays from the CEB, the Ministry has issued instructions to the licensee to ensure that applications for solar panel installations should be processed within two weeks. (Daily FT)

The Minister in charge is Ravi Karunayake, who should not have been given any ministry and who should actually be in jail. He was centrally connected to the bond scam and was found to have been living in an apartment paid for by the main accused. In the face of such obvious corruption he resigned as Minister Of Finance, having already done a significant amount of damage there.

For some insane reason he was given another ministry after the October coup. And now this crap. Solar power is something we should encourage more of, not to mention the tens of thousands of people and companies that have already invested. Pulling Sri Lanka away from solar power at the time the world is moving towards renewables is the most backwards move you could think of.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication and podcast: anchor.fm/indication. patreon.com/indication

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store