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Hydro Power At Risk As Water Levels Run Dry

by Ifham Nizam 

  • It is required to ensure the continuous fuel availability for oil fired power plants
  • PUCSL has warned the country is heading towards a power crisis in the next two years
  • Based on past trends, there will be no rainfall until end of April 2017

Anura Wijayapala and Water levels down in the Mahaweli Region

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) in its latest report stressed that the hydro dispatch level for power generation must to be kept below the average level, to ensure the availability of hydro reservoirs until end of April 2017.

The report indicates that the power supply situation in Sri Lanka for December 2016 to March 2017, based on past trends, Sri Lanka cannot expect an adequate rainfall to fill hydro power reservoirs, the Commission said adding that daily major hydro power generation level is required to be kept below, about six GWh/day in average.

‘Under this condition, the loss of thermal generation capacity in the system can withstand without requiring power cuts will be 560 MW in January. Due to demand growth, this will reduce to 500 MW in February and 350 MW in March,’ PUCSL’s report on the power supply situation in Sri Lanka for December 2016 to March 2017 said.

‘Hence, it is essential to ensure the maximum availability of coal power plants,’ the report further said.

The report says assuming continuation of the November hydro condition, there is a daily surplus energy of about 10,000 MWh in average on a weekday. But, if the system loses approximately 420 MW of thermal generation capacity, there will be an energy inadequacy.

Hence, if a failure similar to October 15, 2016 takes place and the other two units of the first coal fired power plant in Norochcholai, (Lakvijaya Power Plant) also become unavailable, there will be a daily energy inadequacy about 3000 MWh.

The report further said that it is required to ensure the continuous fuel availability for oil fired power plants, in terms of sufficient imports of low sulphur furnace oil and availability of fuel transportation to West Coast power plant, continuous furnace oil supply from Sapugaskanda Refinery, sufficient production/ imports of Naphtha and Diesel / Auto Diesel and availability of fuel transportation to power plants in Kelanithissa to minimize the risks.

The citizens have already faced power out stages in the year 2015 and 2016 and seriously question the state owned power utility, Ceylon Electricity Board on their performance and management as it has failed to maintain the power quality and continuity throughout the country.

At the same time, PUCSL has warned that the country is heading towards a power crisis in the next two years due to the delay in commissioning the new power plants by Ceylon Electricity Board, according to the Long Term Generation Expansion Plan.

The report also says that only two units of Lakvijaya Plant are available.

And even with full availability of thermal power plants, about 500 MW of Hydro power contribution is essential to meet the night peak demand. Hence, it is required to minimize the hydro dispatch during day and off peak time.

Based on past trends, there will be no rainfall until end of April 2017. Hence, daily major hydro dispatch level should be kept below 6 GWh/day in average, to ensure the availability of hydro reservoirs until end of April.

Under this condition, if the system loses more than about 330MW thermal capacity on a weekday, energy will be inadequate. In case of failure of all three units of coal plants in Norochcholai, energy inadequacy will be about five GWh/day – which is some 13 per cent of daily energy requirement-40GWh, the report says.

However, if the hydro condition in November continues – due to availability of run of the river hydro plants, the energy inadequacy in case of failure of coal plants will be reduced to about three GWh/day – eight per cent of daily energy requirement.

Due to reduction in furnace oil production from Sapugaskanda Refinery, daily full load requirement for Asia Power, Sapugaskanda, ACE Power Embilipitiya, Uthuru Janani & Barge power plants, in total cannot be fully met.

Hence, depending on the suitability of imported furnace oil, daily about 50 MW – 80 MW of furnace oil generation will be at risk.

During the first week of December, generation was curtailed in the West Coast power plant due to lack of suitable fuel – low Sulphur furnace oil.

However, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has indicted the receipt of a consignment of required fuel on December 7, 2016 and also two other consignments are due in December. Hence the shortage will not continue in December.

 

Risks in January – March 2017 

Even with full availability of thermal power plants, about 550 MW of Hydro power contribution is essential to meet the night peak demand.

Hence, it is required to ensure that the unit of the Norochchcolai coal power plant resumes generation on January 1, 2017.

Also, it is required to ensure the continuous fuel availability for oil fired power plants, in terms of sufficient imports of low sulphur furnace oil and availability of fuel transportation to West Coast power plant.

 

Analysis of Major Hydro Reservoir level

Present drawdown pattern of major reservoir level is similar to the pattern in 2013 and is lower than the level in 2013.

If the trend continues, the reservoir drawdown pattern in first three months of 2017 will be similar to the pattern during first three months in 2014, the report further says.

Hydro contribution is essential in meeting night peak demand and also for frequency controlling.

Given the possibility of continuation of drawdown pattern until end of April 2017, it is required to minimize the daily dispatch level of major hydro plants.

CEB To Look To Increase Power Cost

With water levels less than half in the catchments, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will shortly spell out the additional cost factor when they meet senior government officials, a top official said.

Some estimate between Rs. 50 and Rs. 60 per unit x 2,000 million units to cover up hydro, unless the Unit One of the first coal fired power plant is ready.

CEB Chairman Anura Wijayapala, when contacted told The Sunday Leader that despite the cost factor they have to consider all options to produce electricity without power cuts.

“We have nothing to do with the additional cost. The government should take a decision in this regard. Usually by this time we have 4,000 million units from hydro but this year pretty bad…less than 2,000 million units.

Responding to queries, he said that they would be compelled to go for discarded oil thermal plants like Heladanavi and ACE Embilipitiya, if necessity occurs.

He also said that one has to consider the economic cost as well for a unit unused. Thus, they would make sure to supply electricity without interruption.

Meanwhile, energy sector officials blamed the CEB for keep on delaying Long Term Generation Plan but going to discarded plants which would result in heavy costs.

1 Comment for “Hydro Power At Risk As Water Levels Run Dry”

  1. Eng.M.V.R.Perera

    Is it the peoples fault that at least 4x 3x 300 Mw of coal fueled BOT projects was not installed at hambantotota and another 2x 3×300 Mw coaled fueled BOT projects was not installed at sampoor with a fair pricing formula which would have saved a Billion rupees per day by changing all transport to electricity driven and a fraction of this billion rupees per day would be sufficient to convert by hotline selected 132cKv and 220Kv lines as required by CEB System Control Center and another fraction to increase the mileage of the railway lines for mass transportation and by means of electric vehicles from the railway station to their destination cheaply and in comfort to their destinations

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