Sri Lanka could face power cuts of as long as as 10 hours a day in January if sufficient coal does not arrive in time to keep a base load coal plant in operation, state-run Ceylon Electricity Board’s engineers union warned.
The Chinese-built three-unit Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant, more commonly known as the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant (NCPP) has received only 5 ships out of 38 ordered so far.
Nihal Weeraratne, President of the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineering Union (CEBEU) said Sri Lanka had failed to bring down required coal on time.
Sri Lanka faced forex shortages after economic bureaucrats printed money to suppress rates and the country eventually defaulted. Earlier suppliers used to give credit to Sri Lanka but now energy suppliers are less willing to do so.
The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) expects to get 38 coal ships containing 60,000 metric tons of coal by by April 15, 2023 and the five shipments so far they have received are only sufficient till December 31. After April seas off the Western coast is too rough to unload ships.
“This can be managed by limiting the power plants utilization to one or two plants that will cause extended power cuts. Currently we are facing 2 hours and 20 minutes’ power cuts but after December it will be extended to 10 hours,” Weeraratne told a media briefing on Tuesday.
The sixth ship is due on January 6, 2023 and it takes a period of 5 days for the unloading process which may force the CEB to extend the power cut for 10 hours at least until January 11, he said.
The Union said 7500 metric tons of coal is needed to run the three units of the plant and since they are running out of coal they will switch with one or two units.
“We can’t use hydro power since the water level is only 75 percent and we can’t use it to produce
“Energy has the same priority as water: first for drinking water, then for agricultural activities, and thirdly for electricity,” Weeraratne said.