Offshore wind roadmap launched in Sri Lanka

The World Bank Group has published the Offshore Wind Roadmap for Sri Lanka, commissioned by the Government of Sri Lanka and funded by the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and PROBLUE. The roadmap estimates the country’s locational offshore wind potential to be 56 GW and identifies two sites where Sri Lanka could build its first projects.

While the roadmap was being finalised last year, the World Bank already revealed some details about the country’s estimated technical potential and locations, as well as the area(s) considered for Sri Lanka’s first project.

In the final document now issued, the World Bank and ESMAP delineate three broad areas suitable for offshore wind development and note that the western and southern coasts have the most suitable wind speeds and technical conditions.

For the first wind turbines that would be installed in Sri Lankan waters, the roadmap identifies two large areas in the Gulf of Mannar that could be suitable for building the first offshore wind farm(s). The two areas, which are close to Mannar Island and Puttalam, have shallow waters suitable for fixed-bottom foundations and moderate wind speeds averaging 8-9 m/s.

Of the 56 GW of identified locational potential, 27 GW of offshore wind capacity is located in water depths of less than 50 metres, where fixed-bottom technology would be most suitable, and the floating wind potential is estimated to be 29 GW, located across sites in deeper waters of between 50 and 1,000 metres.

Not all of the identified capacity potential will be economically feasible, especially in areas with lower wind speeds and deeper waters, however, even a small portion of the identified potential could provide a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s energy mix and present a promising new opportunity for the country, according to the roadmap.

Looking at possible development paths for offshore wind in Sri Lanka, the World Bank has developed two deployment scenarios, with the country considered to have the ability to commission its first offshore wind farms by 2030 under either of the two scenarios.

The Low Growth Scenario assumes a modest deployment of offshore wind capacity, with 500 MW by 2030, 1 GW by 2040, and 2 GW in total by 2050. The High Growth Scenario assumes a larger accumulated installed capacity of 1 GW in 2030, 2.5 GW in 2040, and 4 GW in 2050 – and it also explores an interconnection with India to export excess electricity, as well as the production of green hydrogen in the longer-term.

Based on the analysis and findings of the roadmap, the World Bank listed 22 recommendations for the Government of Sri Lanka to deliver the high growth scenario, starting with setting offshore wind targets this year and preparing the first, Pathfinder project by 2025.