Coal goes ahead in Sri Lanka but the reality still unknown

(March 19, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday inaugurated the second phase of the Norochcholai coal power plant.

Norochcholai, situated in North Western Province, provides vicinity to Sri Lanka’s first coal power plant. The 300 MW first phase of the project is now near completion.

The government repeatedly says that the rates of electricity tariffs will be slashed with the commencement of coal electricity generation. Hope that dream will be materialized. Sri Lanka is among the countries where the electricity rates are very high.

The cheapness of coal power electricity is challenged by environmentalists. They argue that the cost of the environmental and healthcare damages are not usually calculated when computing the price of a coal power unit.

By the time the proposal for the coal power plant in Norochcholai was moved, there was vehement protest from villagers, environmentalists and social activists. Following is an argument against this move that was published by BBC.

The construction of the three phases of the project costs US$ 1.35 billion, Ministry of Energy sources say.
300 MW plant will require 2640 MT of coal daily. A minimum of six months stock will be (2640 mt X 30 X 6 ) 475,200 MT. One meter high storage facility will require over 100 acres land or 2 m high facility require 50 acres. To suppress the coal dust due to heavy blowing using sprinklers to cover this facility will be practically an impossible task. Even if it is possible the requirement of water if taken from the ground water resource will starve the agricultural crops and even the drinking water wells will dry up in addition to seepage of seawater. Desalination of seawater for this purpose will add to the cost of production of power.

However, now the plant in Norochcholai will be upgraded to 900 MW under the second and third phases. The cost for the second phase is estimated US $ 891 million. China CMEC Company is the contractor of construction.

The first stage of the Norochcholai power plant was started in 2006. The construction of the third stage begins in 2012 and is to be finalized in 2013.


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