We know we have resources, but we are not using those enough, are we? Are there ways to utilize the resources more? Undoubtedly, although we have the potential, we have not reached the maximum for sure. If so, we would not expect power outages as soon as a drought hits the country. We depend mostly on rainfall to supply our electricity, yet we clear the forest cover we have. Given the circumstances, it is the perfect time to look for the potential Sri Lanka has for renewable energy sources.
Main sources of renewable energy
Since Sri Lanka is located in the equatorial belt, it receives a year round supply of solar
radiation. The tropical temperatures and the location of the island in the ocean have resulted in distinct wind circulations. These settings have blessed the country with ample base of renewable energy resources. Some of these energy sources are already in use, like hydropower, solar, and wind. However, except for hydropower, solar and the wind has not been utilized to its maximum potential.
Wind climate of Sri Lanka is primarily determined by the two Asian Monsoons, the South West (SW) and North East (NE) Monsoons. The SW is the stronger of the two Monsoons and is felt along the entire West Coast of Sri Lanka as well as in interior areas and some mountainous regions. While winds over mountainous regions are highly site specific, turbulent and confined to the SW monsoon, winds over flat landscapes in the south-eastern and north-western coastal belt are more consistent and occur during both monsoons.
Several Wind studies were carried out by the CEB and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of USA. According to the studies, the potential for wind power in Sri Lanka is 20,740 MW's.
Generating power through wind turbines is indeed a very feasible project to be initiated in Sri Lanka. Although we have few wind turbines running in Hambantota and Puttalam, it is still in the primitive stage to be known as a primary source of renewable energy. One of the main reasons for being that a less popular choice is the high initial cost. It would be a good investment for the country if the government could work with the private sector to initialize a project.
We receive an abundant supply of solar radiation year around. Solar radiation over the island
does not show a marked seasonal variation. As estimated in the solar resource map developed by NREL of the USA, over most parts of the flat dry zone, which accounts for two-thirds of the land area, solar radiation varies from 4.0 – 4.5 kWh/m2/day. Solar radiation levels remain as low as 2.0 – 3.5 kWh/m2/day over the high plains of Nuwara Eliya due to the significant cloud cover over most parts of the day. Thus, a substantial potential exists in the dry zone of Sri Lanka for harnessing solar energy.
Biomass is the most common source of energy supply in the country, with the majority usage coming from the domestic sector for cooking purposes. Paddy being one of the main agricultural crop in Sri lanka. Residue of paddy is more than substantial to give bio mass energy a serious thought. Sri Lanka also has the potential of generating Bio mass energy though the plant Gliricedia sepium. In 2005, the government declared the plant as the fourth plantation crop after tea, rubber and coconut. The target is to develop bio-fuels to take 20% share in the energy generation by 2020.