Sri Lanka has a potential of about 20,000 MW of wind energy

The Sri Lankan government has decided to change its coal-based power generation plan and not go for more coal plants and instead shift towards renewable energy, power minister Patali Ranawaka said.

“The future of power generation not only in Sri Lanka but in the entire world lies on renewable energy for several factors. The burning of fossil fuel for power generation in the last 60 to 70 years has caused irreparable damage to the world such as global warming, climate change, rising of the sea level, melting down of poles, floods and droughts accompanied by huge air pollution. If we are to save our own country and the global community from this impending disaster we will have to turn to renewable energy sooner than later as renewable energy is clean, cheap and resource bases are unlimited. The world will see the end of the production of fossil fuel within the next 40 to 50 years,” Minister Ranawaka said.

The previous generation plan envisaged adding about 200 megawatts a year of coal based power plants, he said.

A 300 MW coal power plant being built by the Chinese in north-western Puttalam is expected on come on stream before the end of the year and will later be expanded to a total of 900 MW.

Another coal power plant is to be built by an Indian company in Sampur, near the north-eastern Trincomalee harbour.

"After the Sampur power plant comes by 2014 we will not go for any more coal power plants," Ranawaka told a news conference.

"We want to exploit clean, renewable energy sources and reduce our emissions. Also, fossil fuel reserves are being exhausted."

The short-term priority is to reduce the cost of operating expensive diesel and heavy-fuel based thermal power plants which now provide the base load power by converting to less costly fuel, he said.

Ranawaka said a US survey showed the island has a potential of about 20,000 MW of wind power.

"Now our capacity is 2,500MW. If we can harness 4-5,000MW of wind power we can simply double our capacity."

A government company will be set up to exploit renewable energy sources like wind and hydro-power.