Government Battles Norochcholai Crisis

  • Chinese team arrives to fix problem

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Norochcholai coal power plant

The government is looking to work out a permanent solution to the crisis at the Norochcholai coal power plant as the plant continues to suffer more breakdowns.

A Chinese technical team was scheduled to arrive in the country recenly to inspect the plant and rectify some of the issues.

Sulakshana Jayawardena, Director (Development) at the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy told The Sunday Leader that the technical team will service the coal power plant and carry out maintenance work.

A generator at the Norochcholai coal power plant broke down last month. The third power generator at the power plant that broke down.

The Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy later said there will not be power cuts in the island as a result of the breakdown.

Jayawardena said that the third generator at Norochcholai adds 300 mw of power to the national grid.

Deputy Minister of Power and Energy Ajith Perera compared the Norochcholai coal power plant to that of a disabled child.

The Deputy Minister told The Sunday Leader that the country is heavily dependent on the Norochcholai coal power plant as the water levels at catchment areas are very low.

He said that the government had the burden of having to manage the plant which was commissioned by the former regime.

Dy. Minister Perera said that the government would however rectify the issues at Norochcholai and make it a more effective power station in the country.

“We are doing our best to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the country,” the Deputy Minister added.

Jayawardena said that the recent power outings in the country were not totally related to the Norochcholai breakdown.

He said that the recent trade union action by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) resulted in fuel not reaching private power suppliers.

As a result at least one private power supplier was unable to operate the power station and supply power to the national grid.

In April this year the Norochcholai coal power plant suffered a similar breakdown as the recent one and even then Chinese experts were called in to rectify the issue.

Following the April breakdown, Power and Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya visited the Norochcholai coal power plant to inspect the damage caused to one generator.

Meanwhile in October last year, following similar breakdowns, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) appointed a high-profiled three member committee to carry out an independent investigation.

Shibly Aziz, Former Attorney General and President’s Counsel had been appointed as the Chairman of the Committee with R. I. Senaratne, Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IESL College of Engineering and Professor Kapila Perera, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa had been appointed as committee members.

The Investigation Team was tasked to investigate relevant technical and non-technical evidence/information/data that requires to ascertain the causes of the failure, examine the causes for the failure, analyze whether  the failure could have been prevented and make recommendations and advice to prevent similar failures in the future.

As the Electricity Regulator, PUCSL is obliged to ensure that a coordinated, efficient and economical system of electricity supply is provided and maintained throughout Sri Lanka at all times. Unexpected major failures in the generation plants have a significant negative impact on the continuity of the supply.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Ajith Perera said that the country will not fully depend on Norochcholai in future.

Ajith Perera added that the Moragahakanda project will help take the burden off Norochcholai.

The Project will generate 25MW hydro-power to the national grid, the Minister said.

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