The Microgrid Project is a turning point in the energy sector of Sri Lanka, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Energy told a gathering in Colombo last week.
He said the day was important due to two factors which was, everyone present had become eye witnesses to the transmission of innovative modernisation of the technology in Sri Lanka. The second important factor was the joining together of different parties, which usually doesn’t happen in this country, to accomplish a national responsibility. He said this initiative goes par with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision that by 2030 out of the total energy production 70 percent should be made of renewable energy. The Minister said in the quest to minimise the reliance on Diesel to generate power to 5% in 2030 and increase the renewable energy production, Microgrid could play a vital role in especially absorbing and transmitting the renewable energy which would be produced at that time. Alahapperuma said the uniqueness of the project was the coming together of institutions of the magnitude of ADB, LECO, UOM, DIMO and DHYBRID to accomplish the task. He said the biggest challenge they faced was giving a good price to the customer and in the quest of achieving that target how to protect the environment.
Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) together with the University of Moratuwa (UOM) launched a pioneering pilot project on Microgrid with a grant assistance of $ 1.8 million (approximately Rs. 325 million) from Asian Development Bank (ADB). DIMO, together with the German specialist DHYBRID, has been selected for the supply of comprehensive Renewable Energy Microgrid consisting of power generation and storage, a model which can be scaled up for uninterrupted power distribution for customers across the country. The pilot project contains a commercial Microgrid and R&D facility which will be used as a research platform for the studies in nature of renewable energy integration and smart grids. The data obtained from the commercial Microgrid as well as the equipment and simulation environment will facilitate these R&D functions towards meeting the predefined research targets. The UOM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LECO in establishing the “LECO Smartgrid Laboratory” and the facility will be maintained by LECO for the first 20 years. South Asia Energy Division of ADB with the Ministry of Power and Energy conceptualised this intervention as a part of its continuous assistance to expand clean energy development in Sri Lanka. LECO, as one of the pioneering distribution utilities who is always willing to embrace these new concepts, was selected as the instrument to realize this concept. The UOM premises was selected to be the site for the pilot cross-sectoral project due to the many advantages it offers. UOM will provide the rooftops and laboratory location and a set of targets are to be met by UOM post the commissioning. The initial investment and capacity development support are financed through ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility.
“ADB has been a long-term partner in Sri Lanka’s energy sector development. Our assistance in the clean energy, includes Sri Lanka’s first large scale 100MW wind park in Mannar, 30MW hydropower station in Moragolla and the solar rooftop credit line, among others. Similarly, ADB has been supporting the strengthening of power evacuation from distributed renewable energy generation both at transmission and primary distribution level, in addition to its support for both supply side and demand side energy efficiency improvements. ADB is always committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s inclusive energy sector development focussing on clean energy with new and innovative technologies and solutions”, said ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Dr. Chen Chen.
Acting General Manager of LECO Dr. Narendra De Silva said, “LECO is always dedicated to maintaining a safe and hassle free electricity supply to our customers around the clock on their demand. This project will be developed as a solution for power interruptions consumers face due to breakdowns as well as outages during maintenance activities. During such power failures, solar inverters also withdraw from the system by anti-islanding protection, driving even the customer who has sufficient power to power up their premises through their solar generation, go out of power.”
“Microgrids are identified as a solution for these problems where it can increase the hosting capacity of the distribution network and can feed the power to the network when the grid is not available, since the excess power can be stored while storage issues like reverse power flow and subsequent voltage issues are also expected to be mitigated. Through this pilot project, LECO will seek the possibility of replicating the concept for other transformers and similar premises, to improve power supply reliability and the lessons learnt through this project will be shared internationally”, he further added.
Chairman & Managing Director of DIMO, Ranjith Pandithage said, “As a company which plays a significant role in Power sector through Transmission and Distribution projects and Power Generation – mainly focusing on Renewable Energy, we are indeed privileged to work together on this historic project that will take local power supply to the next level. DIMO’s highly-qualified and experienced team of engineers are assigned to execute this project while sharing the knowledge with our German partner DHYBRID. We believe that this project will help DIMO to enhance the expertise in developing the Microgrid concept in Sri Lanka. DIMO has also been contributing to the constructing of the utility grid of Sri Lanka for the past 50 years.”