SRI LANKA: THE MID-TERM REPORT
Posted on October 17th, 2012

By Gomin Dayasri

 Symbolically the bloom has faded away from the national flower (“Nil Manel”), which grows in the mud in shallow waters. Beside sits Sri Lanka, stranded in such sludge in troubled waters. Rajapakse pulled a patriotic genie out of an iron helmet during the war but it’s fast becoming a fading gnome – unless an intense heart massage can revive the spirit of patriotism, which is the last trump in his pack of card tricks.

 Navigating nationally, ground realities give a more kaleidoscopic visual than a statistical survey on the results of the last provincial council elections, which were staggered. Picture gets distorted, placed against the background of an election map spread across the country, on a solitary day’s polling round, as at a presidential or general election. A government with a 2/3 majority has a gait to look the size of a sleeping giant but its thought process carries the dimension of a teeny-weeny peanut. UPFA is a rainbow coalition created by an arranged marriage than a love match. Such a union needs weeks to assemble and days to disintegrate.

  Sri Lanka’s immediate future lies on its way to bloom or gloom on the broad and slim shoulders respectively of regime’s apparatchiks- P.B.Jayasundera and Nivard Cabraal. Eye of the oncoming cyclone is focused on the economy. Coming close to a pre-empted election year, economic platform is set for a make or a break situation; never has the executive being dependent on so few for so much. Were the Two Big Lads “”…” often at variance- hamstrung to decline the options available in deflecting the many obstacles they encountered? They have no choice but to take the nuclear option with the lights blinking red. Fate of a government hangs on their individual decisions.

 Comforting thought is that the twosome in tandem steered the country skillfully through troubled terrorist times with minimal economic woes while shouldering a crippling war chest. Discomfort strikes on realization that the government is more geared to service a war zone than a peace precinct.

 We are doing worse, in times of peace, and surviving mercifully on the gains made by entrepreneurial individuals by remittances or on successful ventures in their home bases, working on their skills to make money that circulates. Banks are in trouble finding their non-performance ratios fast widening and are rescheduling loans to avoid losses with a credit crunch online.

 Public sector and the corporate private sector – with a few exceptions – jointly have let the country down. Yet, the public sector won a war the private sector had abandoned as a lost cause. The private sector hedges it bets to sail along with any winner for profit while the defense forces are held in esteem. We are into reality time.

 Knives are being sharpened for the deepest spending cuts at next November’s budget. It is an appetizer before the main course. We have spent too much, cared too little for bookkeeping, lived beyond our means, plugged the gap by borrowing in order to enjoy a rich man’s life and conveniently dumped liabilities on the next generation.

 The designed economy looks anemic and deformed. There is stunted growth, ballooning fiscal deficits, troublesome current account, entrenched inflation, devalued rupee, spiraling oil prices and a spending profligacy. Placed in peril are health, education, energy, security and law and order that directly touch the public.

  It means a reduced employment opportunities and lesser funding for poverty alleviation. Life is becoming meaner for their faithful voters mindful a Presidential election is slated for shortly. Worse offs trekked to the polling booths to swell votes for the ruling party while the government they elected cohabits with a selected privileged class to protect the better offs.

  The newly generated sycophants – the emerging armies of “Rajapacks” are thriving and displacing the vocal Colombians from the social circuit. It’s mostly those that carried placards in support of the government in 2005 that are found screaming slogans against the government in 2012.

 The fireworks will start in Geneva in the early November before the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and hopefully lightning does not strike fatally in March 2013 when Sri Lanka will be taken for review.  Are we ready for any eventuality with some nibble footwork? We presented a road map to US to please them. Their obvious query will be how much have you achieved?  Road maps are worthless if there are no roads to travel on. Friendship roads don’t seem to be visible to the North or East.

 Ranil Wickremasinghe is playing to a smart plan. He knows it is only the government that can destroy itself, realizing the limitations of his party and himself. He plays coy with the government that is waiting to see further cracks develop in the opposition; meanwhile watching hopefully for the good riddance of bad rubbish from his party; Ranil knows that will be additional muck to a government already with an overloaded garbage dump. The men who deserted him have already contributed substantially to the woes of the state. Wickremasinghe is taking the most comfortable route for himself of waiting for the government to fall into his lap- not to topple the apple cart is his style of politics. It sure could be a long wait and a risky gamble where events could by pass him. Ranil thinks he has no other option – some in his party will remain agitated being of lesser mind.

 There is an invisible divider many fail to see but is deeply ingrained in the people. People place the obnoxious with the government and exculpate the President as a virtual sovereign: it translates into often blaming the government instead of the President, though he is collectively responsible, is still held reverently. It arises partly in gratitude to the man who is reckoned to have done the impossible of defeating terrorism comprehensively and the belief people have that he will not sell the country: partly because of his personality and the rapport established with the people by winning a war that has given their families the advantage of guaranteed security deeming him to be the centrifugal symbolic power that binds Sri Lanka.

 Men in politics understand the reality that underlines an unusual phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics.  Wickremasinghe has the intelligence to appreciate the importance of biding time in the waiting game.

 This element surfaced significantly when the Judicial Service Commission decided to take on the executive. Naturally living in judicial isolation they did not appreciate the mood of the people, which is the ultimate litmus test. They failed to understand that people do not want a war hero caused distress over an issue that does not touch them. The possible route to dismantle the President and the Government is only through the economic front since it disorients the people. If the economy crashes it’s the end of the chapter. Knowing the logistics the President will call for a presidential election rapidly before a general election and take a patriotic route that judicial interpretations may provide of the Constitution. Ranil’s opposition was wise not to take a role by staying aside from the ongoing dispute and moving to the center mindful that a hot potato was in the hot plate.

 If Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil Wickremasinghe are cloned that will produce the perfect misfit. Sri Lanka needs them both but with a space in between.

28 Responses to “SRI LANKA: THE MID-TERM REPORT”

  1. nandimitra Says:

    we don’t need both we need a new force honest and selfless.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    SL: We presented a road map to you (US)

    USA: How much have you achieved?

    SL: MUCH MORE than you achieved in Israel/Palestine!!

  3. Dham Says:

    “Road maps are worthless if there are no roads to travel on.”

    The problem does not exist. We draw road maps to solve the problem.

    It is simlar to fighting in Afganistan. Fighting with who ?
    US and allys fighting with Taliban who is supplied with arms by USA.

  4. Leela Says:

    Ordinary people know that many a politician and their henchmen are immersed in bribery, sleaze, and corruption. But they also know that had been also the case when UNP and Chandrika were in power. So, ordinary people may put up with travesty of justice for the time being for it doesn’t affect them directly but when extreme hardship bite them it could be a different story.

    True or not they’ve heard about, Lalith and his gobbling of ships; and, Gamini and his enterprising apple estates in Australia; and Premadasa and vast expanse of coconut estates. They also remember, Chandrik promised to hang the corrupt in the Gallface green. If only one reads that Ivan’s book, Bandit Queen he/she could visualize thing she is said to have done. I forgot; one has to ask Federica Janz about RanilW’s embezzlement of party funds. But today everyone of them act like an angel and accuse opponents with a glee.

    Getting back to the point, protests are a common occurrence today. In fact, a wave of protests sweeps throughout the country for numerous but localized short comings. But these have nothing to do with the gloom that Dayasri is predicting, at least for the time being.

    Government, better take these protests as an ominous sign. When bad time comes, all that disrepute that ‘silvas’ and ‘dumindas’ and ‘the corrupt’ had brought upon the government would override all that good things Rajapakses have done. People will take to street and agitate against Rajapakses just the way people have done all over the world. And the UNP and the JVP will go for Rajapakses’ scalps. And the separatists of TNA type and pseudo democrats of Sarawanamuttu type and the antinationals of Bahu type would get in to the protest bandwagon and looks a way to find a new roadmap to their long held goal (Eelam) fulfilled. They would try it just the way they did it at the last Presidential election.

    RaniW is exposed for his anti national rhymes and planting evangelists at higher echelons of the UNP. So he can wait forever until presidency fall in his lap. Fonseka can only practice command democracy. So, he will never ever understand realpolitik or how it can be used to muster support. There is no other joker in sight for the contest.

    That’s what I feel and foresee. And I am sure, Rajapakses know it as well. So, I sincerely hope Rajapakses would fine-tune their realpolitik and cast ‘silva’ and ‘duminda’ and ‘the corrupt’ types aside and prepare a plan to face difficult times to come.
    Leela

  5. Raj Says:

    An NGO has funded Gomin to write this. Or Gomin is just gone off rails.

  6. Leela Says:

    Raj
    I must say, Dayasri has never been a sycophantic puppet of anyone. Dayasri cannot be a dollar shark either. You, I or supporters of this government may not agree with him on everything he writes; but we have to respect his scholarly opinion, views and outlook for it is all based on rational argument and constructive criticism. As far as I can see ‘constructive criticism’ is what this government lack right now. Leave out our disagreements, one thing we all must agree is that Dayasri is genuinely a true patriot.
    Leela

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Gomin played a big role in saving eastern province from the disgustingly racist north.

    Calling him “NGO funded” is WRONG on the part of Rajaratnam.

    Monday is another BIG DAY for SL. If supreme court says the government bill is passed in northern province, that will be the end of TNA’s wet dreams of becoming kings in the north. NGOs filed this action.

    But if the court postpones it as it usually does, it is too bad.

    IF the court says NO, govt. should move to SCRAP 13 amendment right away.

    I personally prefer the court to say NO so the govt will have to get rid of 13 amendment without temporary fixes.

    I’m sure Gomin will have to play more legal battles for the country in future.

  8. Christie Says:

    Very forceful words, It looks like Sri lanka will end before the end of the Mayan calender.

    India has not given up and it will not until, may be its demise.

    The country has two main problems, both caused by the Indians.

    The first 13th amendment and the creation of nine governments in a county of 25000 sq miles. If stae govenments to be created on that scale in India how many state goverments will India have?

    The second is pumping of addictive drugs in to Sri lanka almost free of charge. India is the biggest narcotic and other drugs dealer since they parnered with the British to build the British Indian Empire.

  9. Christie Says:

    All Sihalese should unite to stand up to Indian Imperialism. When I say Indian imperialism it includes clonial parasites like UNHRC Navi Pillai and Yasmin Sooka and others like them.

    They have to go back to the days of 1948-1956 and unite under the regime we have now. There are lot of politicians like SWRD today who live off the Indian imperialists.

  10. Naram Says:

    There is a saying ‘Hitha Honda Geni Hemadama Badin’. Good natured woman is always pregnant. Similarly rest assured, a so called ‘selfless’ and ‘honest’ politician is unlikely to win elections.

    TO make a good politician one needs a second rate knowledge and ability in thousands of facets, brilliance in one small area like the famous Prof Suntharalingam will not do.

    Looking at the politicians in the world today, I do think the lot in SL rank avarage or above in terms of the desired qualities. Most of them have their bases in the rural societies thus come without the post colonial baggage of inheritances from former masters. Study a bit about so called gentleman politicians of yesteryear – they all had fortunes to fall back on either from vast tea coconut or rubber estates, generations of profits from liquor trade, lucrative practice at bar etc.

    Only few in the current crop can boast such credentials and so may depend on drug dealers, bookeys, and small time businessmen to pay for the elections and then to keep them in the fine life style of driving their luxury cars. Defecting UNP / TNA folks say how aloof their leaders are, as they depend entirely on NGOs and foriegn billionnaires for party funds and do not bow down to locals.

    Preponderance of overseas vulture capital / foriegn know how will remain a feature in many third world economies for most activities from building ports/ airports / roads /bridges power generation to manipulation in the election time with massive hoardings. Perhaps rise of Socialist world may have given a respite in the latter part of 20th century – but that idealism is now replaced with a more hard headed realism.

    Elections reduce to a bianary language – what is happening in US today is a good example.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    In times of war, politics are relatively easy. The masses are for winning the war against the enemy, and politicians do not have to bother much about placating the masses.

    However, the game plan changes in times of Peace. Sri Lanka is moving away from Colonial type, Colombian based politics, and going to the more rural, localised type of politics. It is inevitable that any of these new type politico will do some pocket stuffing, given an easy opportunity. However, thousands of rupees seem more acceptable than the millions of $$ elsewhere, and also in Sri Lanka the exposure of bribes is fairly quick.

    The real danger is from drugs & narcotics, with political patronage. This MUST STOP. Whoever who brings drugs & narcotics into Sri Lanka is the real enemy of Sri Lanka.

    To streamline election needs, state run TV, radio and print media should afford some free advertising for the top candidates and so stop corruption for election funds. As far I know, this is how some European countries stop candidates being bribed by various sources to do their bidding later.

    So long as the general public in Sri Lanka show respect for people with ill gotten gains, bribery & corruption will thrive. In a Democracy, it is up to the general public to show respect only toward the honest & able politician, even if poor, and elect only those with proven ability and honesty. That way we can clean up the political scene.

    Food & alternative energy production should receive top priority, always. Some homes in USA have personal windmills installed in their gardens, and sea wave energy is due to be tapped offshore Oregon. Solar energy for homes should be subsidized by GoSL. Alternative energies are used extensively by some of the big businesses abroad. In Germany, even the roadside spare land is covered with solar panels in some areas.
    Organic fertilizers should become “fashionable” in Sri Lanka. Organic foods are becoming very popular and more expensive in the west.
    Preventive Care practices in the Health sector should also receive top billing for GoSL.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    FINALLY! Much needed Legislation to monitor and control NGOs activities thatare INIMICAL to Sri Lanka.

    We have DEMANDED such Laws for a LONG TIME.

    Expect FIERCE OPPOSITION from Foreign Powers trying to control, undermine and destabilize Sri Lanka.

    Their NGO puppets are among their PRIMARY TOOLS for causing MAYHEM in Sri Lanka.
    …….
    Sri Lanka to bring legislation to monitor NGOs

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 18, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government plans to bring in legislation to monitor the activities of the numerous voluntary organizations in the country, a government official has said.

    Director General of the Media Center for National Security (MCNS) Lakshman Hulugalla has said that a program has been launched to take action against the organizations which are engaged in activities against the interests of the country.

    Hulugalla, participating in a discussion programme at the state-run radio Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, has said that several voluntary organizations engaged in numerous forms of irregularities have recently been identified and a new legislation has been drafted to take proper action against them since the existing legislations are inadequate.

    Following the approval of the new legislation in the parliament it would be possible to monitor the activities of all the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) island wide, the Director General of MCNS has said.

    He has pointed out that many NGOs in the North and the East in the recent past had encouraged the activities of the terrorist organization LTTE.

    The official has further said that the government is prepared to identify and assist voluntary organizations engaged in providing services beneficial to the country and the people.

    The government had decided to amend the existing Act which deals with both local and foreign NGOs to enable the government to probe their activities and take appropriate action against them wherever it is necessary.

  13. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran Diaz, said:

    “Food & alternative energy production should receive top priority, always. Some homes in USA have personal windmills installed in their gardens, and sea wave energy is due to be tapped offshore Oregon. Solar energy for homes should be subsidized by GoSL. Alternative energies are used extensively by some of the big businesses abroad. In Germany, even the roadside spare land is covered with solar panels in some areas.
    Organic fertilizers should become “fashionable” in Sri Lanka. Organic foods are becoming very popular and more expensive in the west.”

    Bravo!! I concur WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

    I have done precisely what you recommend in the USA: Installing a 12kW PV array on my home’s roof, a 3kW Sun -Tracking PV array mounted on a metal post, a 2kW Vertical Axis windmill on a 30-foot tall tower, and converting my Toyota 4 Runner to a HYBRID electric SUV with a 60-mile battery powered range in addition to the 360 mile gasoline engine range … all using products and designs engineered by myself and my wife (both R&D engineers retired from universities and national laboratories),first for our own use and then for sale to others through our small R&D company.

    We no longer buy electricity from the power company; instead we sell it electricity at a total rate of return (including renewable energy tax benefits) that cannot be matched by any other legitimate investment in the marketplace. We have displaced 90% of our gasoline purchases using rooftop solar energy to charge my SUV using a GE Wattstation 240-volt charger installed in our garage.

    Having proved to myself … in the USA … that these state-of-the-art renewable energy ideas are viable on the SMALL SCALE, I am now engaged in commercializing these products and taking these small scale Renewable Energy Technologies to Sri Lanka. The focus is twofold: On manufacturing them in Sri Lanka for export to foreign countries, and helping individual homeowners and small companies in Sri Lanka, rather than big institutions or the SL Government, to become energy independent and earn a good return on their investment.

    Believe me: There is NOTHING like a home that generates a good income to pay its own mortgage that gladdens the heart of a homeowner!

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ananda USA,
    Our heartiest congratulations to you and your wife for your independent life style ! May there be thousands, nay, millions like yourselves who take ideas back to Lanka. Mother Lanka is proud today to receive this message from you.

    Please let us know your website for your products, if you have now put one out. I hope HLD won’t think of it as an advertisement, but as a help line for those who are interested.

  15. Cerberus Says:

    Dear Ananda,
    Bravo for doing your own thing and becoming independent. In Germany they give a guaranteed rate for electricity for the next 20 years. This has created a boom in solar and wind power investment by the private sector in Germany. This is what we need to do in Sri Lanka. The Government must issue a guarantee like a bond for the electricity rate for say 25 years. Then I am sure within a few years we will become independent of coal and other forms of energy which pollute the environment. President is talking about Nuclear power. He should be advised not to take that route. Our people are not technically oriented enough to run Nuclear plants. I had experience with Sri Lankan workers in running somewhat technically sophisticated plants and I found they do not have the aptitude. Our people are artists and Kalakarayas not analytical and logical in their thinking. They get things right by intuitive thinking. Why don’t you publish your website so that like minded people can get some of your equipment.

  16. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Research Vessel Samudrika RV should also undertake Wave Energy Spectrum Studies in Sri Lankan waters for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of generating electricity from Ocean Wave Energy.

    Because the parent Wind Energy density is much smaller near the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the Wave Energy Intensity near the Equator is likely to be much less than at those Northern and Southern latitudes. Therefore, wave energy intensity in Sri Lanka is likely to be much less than that, say, in the British Isles, the Japanese Islands, Korea, Alaska, Tasmania and New Zealand.

    Nevertheless, the feasibility of Ocean Wave Energy extraction in Sri Lankan waters should be examined. Furthermore, wave energy extraction can be coupled to other goals as protecting harbors from wave action, and preventing erosion of Sri Lanka’s coastline.

    ……………
    Research vessel launched in Sri Lanka for ocean-based research

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 19, Hambantota: Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa Friday officially launched the Samudrika Research Vessel (Samudrika RV) of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) at the Hambantota Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Harbor.

    Samudrika RV, the first research vessel of Sri Lanka was lunched to conduct a wide range of ocean-based research to provide the country with valuable information on the island’s oceans.

    The ship is equipped with advanced technology and also with a laboratory essential for research activities. It has the capability of accommodating seven scientists to engage in day and night research.

    The vessel will be used to provide data to the fisher fraternity where fish is rife.

    The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry says the deployment of the vessel will certainly help in Sri Lanka’s quest to become a maritime hub in Asia, a goal set in the in the Mahinda Chintana Future Vision.

    Ministers Priyankara Jayaratne, Johnston Fernando, C. B Ratnayake, Mahinda Amaraweera and parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, Chairman of Port Authority Priyath Bandu Wickrama also participated in the event.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    What Ceberus is saying is a good idea : that if GOSL gives a guaranteed price for energy as in Germany, then people in Lanka too will find that they can produce energy from alternative sources and use part of it for themselves and sell the rest to the National Grid at the guaranteed price for a period of 20 yrs. A great source of income for rural folk as well as saving the environment. Land hitherto unused/unsuitable for agricultural purposes due to various reasons such as too much salivation, clay, and cannot be repaired, could be used for windmills and solar energy production.

    Thanks for further info, Ananda USA. Glad to note the good work by GoSL. Good luck with your projects.

  18. Naram Says:

    I would love to believe the idealists of US planning to introduce Solar power in Sri Lanka. My relative who spent few tens of thousands to install a solar unit to power few bulbs for the nights in power cut days few years ago in Galle said he could not get a a bulb -hour of reading out of the exercise. Perhaps sellers do not project the true transmission losses, pooor storage in batterychargin / discharging efficiency. At the same time I know chaps who are happy with their rooftop panel to provide hot water.

    Another friend said his wife had nearly bought a solar panel to install in his old house in South London which had to be stopped after initial signing at few thounds of pounds cost as his roof was not South facing and the panels. Moreover that would have needed regular cleaning from bird droppingss, a tough task for a pensioner.

    I have seen a Professor showing off an array of computers powered by solarpanels in a village in a third world country. Presumably a well heeeled NGO paid the expense of elephant proof monkey prrof installation and a new variety of batteries. In the tropics sunshine lasts for 12 hours and nights are pitch dark besides the risk of damage from boisterous wild animals. To get electricity in the night at 230 – 240 V AC to power a modest radio / a small TV will take many tens of square metres of solar panels. THe structure to install that sufficiently to resist wind and rain will and protected from monkeys and elephants with strong fencing cost more than the house, even of a rich villager.

    I for one am of the opinion,that my friend was eying grants for forom rich western countries for his research but in that process he is closing thedoor for better investments apoor country should purchase for for folks to ensure the livelihood of inhabitants aay in reliable coal burning power stations with modern measures for reducing CO2 emissions.

    Let the rich world develop finer solutions to absorb the poisons they filled our stratosphere like growing algea, all forms of biota absobing CO2.. In the short and medium term one can ague that demands of folks working on service indutries like tourism or apparels / Juki machines need a living need to be given weight over and above the idealists looking for nirvana of greener life.

  19. Marco Says:

    “Director General of the Media Center for National Security (MCNS) Lakshman Hulugalla has said that a program has been launched to take action against the organizations which are engaged in activities against the interests of the country.”

    I believe it was the same Minister Hulugalla who stated that there is no “evidence” to prosecute KP-Chief Arms Procurer of the LTTE who is possibly the worst terrorist next to Prabakaran.It is indeed a very clever move by MR. “evidence” used as an insurance policy by both sides.

  20. Lorenzo Says:

    “Director General of the Media Center for National Security (MCNS) Lakshman Hulugalla has said that a program has been launched to take action against the organizations which are engaged in activities against the interests of the country.”

    GREAT NEWS!!

    Thanks Micro for sharing. But stop shooting the messenger! He only tells the decision to the public.

    Pakyasothi Saravanamuttai’s CPA piece of dirt MUST be illegalised. It is the biggest threat to national interests.

  21. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran Diaz and Cerebus,

    Thank you for the kind words of support. My wife and I are doing these things because we are still children having fun on a beach building sand castles, and because we deeply feel a need to help Sri Lanka in some meaningful way. What better way than to put the professional knowledge and skills gained over a lifetime to work?

    I have developed a comprehensive website for marketing my Renewable Energy Products with detailed economic feasibility assessment, product evaluation, and installation guides for buyers, but have resisted the urge to publish the information in the prototype testing stage before the products are available for purchase, because such advertisement of vaporware destroys credibility. I will let you know when the website is online with a single hyperlink, without blatant commercial advertisement at LankaWeb.

    Yes, Cerberus’s advocacy of guaranteed purchase prices for renewable energy by the government through long term bonds, would indeed be very beneficial to promoting and jump starting widespread adoption of renewable energies, particularly solar and wind, in Sri Lanka.

    There are many other ways of doing this as well, such as: through investment tax credits as done by the federal government of the US; through tax rebates on a $/kW installed basis as in the State of California; through requiring power companies to purchase the NET generated renewable energy from homeowners and small producers at rates that equal their own generation cost (but excluding transmission and distribution costs) as in California; by requiring power companies to enable “Net Metering” to ease the measurement and billing of the net energy fed into the grid; by imposing carbon-pollution fees on the power companies to give them the incentive to favor and purchase clean energies; and by underwriting very low-interest renewable loans directly from commercial banks to individuals for small-scale renewable energy (solar and wind) installations.

  22. Ananda-USA Says:

    Naram,

    Let us examine your comments regarding the feasibility of solar power in detail.

    First, I did not deploy solar and wind because I am a wool-headed IDEALIST out to save the world. On the contrary, every renewable energy product I have developed and installed first for my own use was done using not monopoly money, but my own hard-earned money after detailed hard-headed assessment of the Total Rate of Return on my investment compared to other low-risk financial investments. My PV installation, for example, will still be providing 80% of the rated power 30 years from now, when I will be pushing up daisies from six feet below the ground.

    If your relative in Galle had properly designed and selected the PV system, and purchased high efficiency bulbs (ie., LED or Compact Fluorescent, not wasteful Incandescent) to reduce wastage of power, and backed it up with a deep-cycle energy storage lead acid battery system with an small but efficient PV battery charger, he would be able to light up his house without any problems for many decades, incurring only the cost of replacing the batteries every 5 years or so. In Sri Lanka, two Sharp ND-240QCJ, 240 Watt Solar Panels (say, 15% efficient,39 inches x 65 inches in size, $340 ea) charging a single 12 Volt deep-cycle lead acid battery, and oriented facing approximately vertically upwards would have given him a lifetime of light for reading. (The approximately ideal orientation for a fixed-array for a site in the Northern Hemisphere would be with the Azimuth facing the South, and tilted at an angle equal to the Latitude (7 degrees N for SL) to the vertical.)

    Yes, in Britain, whose Latitude is 53 degree N, facing South is more critical, but not essential because the Sun travels in a East to West trajectory that illuminates panels facing the East, South and West appreciably. Also, solar radiation has a diffuse component that reduces its directional impact as well. In the Northern Hemisphere, South facing is best but any direction … other than North facing … will do. Keeping the Solar panels free of dirt is important and is something that should be done on a yearly basis. A water hose and a brush on a long handle weilded by a non-expert cleaner is all that is needed. If you can’t do it, hire someone to do it … once a year!

    You said, “to get electricity in the night at 230 – 240 V AC to power a modest radio / a small TV will take many tens of square metres of solar panels.” Nonsense! Two square meters of 240 Watt PV panels would be enough to power a village home through the night, if low-power equipment are chosen judiciously. Power consumption of radios and TVs depend on the technology. Most radios of today consume very little power … not even 5 watts of power. Large screen (> 32 inches) TV power consumption can be anywhere from 80 to 800 watts. There are small LCD TVs that consume as little as 20 Watts! With small PV systems, you need to carefully select the loads and plan to conserve the power. NOTHING, of course, can be done against invading Elephants except to hang out a “No Trespassing” sign because, as we all know, elephants are more intelligent and learned to read before we did. PV panels are UNIQUELY well suited to bringing the gift of electricity to remote villages in the third world. However, that electricity needs to be conserved and not used, for example, cooking or heating … for which a solar cooker or hot-water heater should be used.

    I KNOW that “reliable coal burning power stations with modern measures for reducing CO2 emissions” IS SIMPLY NOT ECONOMICALLY possible because of the HUGE Volumes of CO2 generated. We are not talking here about trace pollutants (NO2, SO2) etc, which we can clean up by scrubbing effluent gases, but getting rid of the CARBON …. a major constituent of hydrocarbon fossil fuels. We can transform the CO2 into solid carbonates disposed in waste dumps, or pump the CO2 into deep underground strata, etc etc but all of these options are EXPENSIVE and environmentally dangerous. Also, the act of producing fossil fuels from the earth is enormously destructive to the land … as we see all over the world … and especially in the coal fields of West Virginia. Finally, these fossil fuels are far more important for use as chemical feedstock to produce everything … clothes, plastics, fertilizers, medicines … that humans will need for eternity. Burning those resources is a PROFLIGATE WASTE of the inheritance of humankind.

    I fully agree with your statement “Let the rich world develop finer solutions to absorb the poisons they filled our stratosphere like growing algea, all forms of biota absorbing CO2” , especially the use of algae and other biota to consume and transform CO2 into less harmful forms. But let us remember, that biota also cannot be allowed to proliferate in an unrestricted way to absorb ever increasing amounts of CO2 emissions, for that itself would harm the environment as we know it, before humankind can evolve to adapt to those changes.

    On the earth we have a FINITE ENERGY BUDGET fed by the Sun; we have to learn to harness those daily inputs of energy in non-harmful ways.

    That brings us to Sri Lanka, where we are impacted by increasingly unaffordable fossil fuel importation costs, but are well endowed with the energy from the sun. Should we not use it, and learn to live within that bounty doing all we need to raise the living standards of our people, giving them globally marketable skills, using the best available technologies?

    We are now investing vast sums of money on developing our national infrastructure to position Sri Lanka to become the New Wonder of Asia. Should we not deploy those funds in technologies that will yield a sustainable economy and environment avoiding the errors of the smokestack industrial age in the West, by importing now-cheap coal that will be unavailable at any price in the future?

    We now have the opportunity to do that in economically ways, without bankrupting ourselves in the process, or causing irreparable future harm to our country.

  23. aloy Says:

    Ananda-USA
    “My wife and I are doing these things because we are still children having fun on a beach building sand castles, and because we deeply feel a need to help Sri Lanka in some meaningful way. What better way than to put the professional knowledge and skills gained over a lifetime to work?”
    This is great. How much a unit will cost in US Dollars?. If it is not very expensive why not install few units in SL as soon as possible. If it is as rosy as you describe, it should be the ideal solution for our energy problem. Perhaps a letter to our energy minister Patali will yield fruitful results.

  24. Fran Diaz Says:

    Correction : please read as “salination ….”

  25. Fran Diaz Says:

    An article from Science Daily re efficient solar panels :

    “Record Efficiency for Next-Generation Solar Cells
    ScienceDaily (July 29, 2012) — Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) have made a breakthrough in the development of colloidal quantum dot (CQD) films, leading to the most efficient CQD solar cell ever. Their work is featured in a letter published in Nature Nanotechnology.

    The researchers, led by U of T Engineering Professor Ted Sargent, created a solar cell out of inexpensive materials that was certified at a world-record 7.0% efficiency.
    “Previously, quantum dot solar cells have been limited by the large internal surface areas of the nanoparticles in the film, which made extracting electricity difficult,” said Dr. Susanna Thon, a lead co-author of the paper. “Our breakthrough was to use a combination of organic and inorganic chemistry to completely cover all of the exposed surfaces.”
    Quantum dots are semiconductors only a few nanometres in size and can be used to harvest electricity from the entire solar spectrum — including both visible and invisible wavelengths. Unlike current slow and expensive semiconductor growth techniques, CQD films can be created quickly and at low cost, similar to paint or ink. This research paves the way for solar cells that can be fabricated on flexible substrates in the same way newspapers are rapidly printed in mass quantities.
    The U of T cell represents a 37% increase in efficiency over the previous certified record. In order to improve efficiency, the researchers needed a way to both reduce the number of “traps” for electrons associated with poor surface quality while simultaneously ensuring their films were very dense to absorb as much light as possible. The solution was a so-called “hybrid passivation” scheme.
    “By introducing small chlorine atoms immediately after synthesizing the dots, we’re able to patch the previously unreachable nooks and crannies that lead to electron traps,” explained doctoral student and lead co-author Alex Ip. “We follow that by using short organic linkers to bind quantum dots in the film closer together.”
    Work led by Professor Aram Amassian of KAUST showed that the organic ligand exchange was necessary to achieve the densest film.
    “The KAUST group used state-of-the-art synchrotron methods with sub-nanometer resolution to discern the structure of the films and prove that the hybrid passivation method led to the densest films with the closest-packed nanoparticles,” stated Professor Amassian.
    The advance opens up many avenues for further research and improvement of device efficiencies, which could contribute to a bright future with reliable, low cost solar energy.
    According to Professor Sargent, “Our world urgently needs innovative, cost-effective ways to convert the sun’s abundant energy into usable electricity. This work shows that the abundant materials interfaces inside colloidal quantum dots can be mastered in a robust manner, proving that low cost and steadily-improving efficiencies can be combined.”

  26. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran Diaz,

    The 7% efficiency achieved for the Quantum Dot Cells in your article seems to be the highest achieved; previously reported values were around 5%. QDC research is in progress, with the potential for much higher efficiencies to be achieved in the future. Then, the large-scale manufacturing technologies would have to be developed to bring the cost down to, and below, standard PV solar panel costs.

    However, I want to emphasize that these reported QDC efficiencies are very low compared even to the AVERAGE conversion efficiencies routinely achieved for standard silicon-based solar PANELS of around 15-18% that include not only the active solar cell itself, but also the non-active electrical connections on its surface and the blank spaces between individual solar cells arranged in a rectangular array on a solar panel frame. The efficiency for a single-material active solar cell by itself has a theoretical upper limit of about 31%.

    The maximum intensity of Solar Radiation (at Noon) is approximately 1000 W/m^2, so that a solar PANEL with 15% efficiency will generate about 150 Watts for each square meter of panel surface area exposed to that irradiation. The individual solar cell efficiencies are a few percent higher. For example, the run-of-the-mill polycrystalline silicon solar panel, the 240 Watt Sharp ND-240QCJ, that I mentioned earlier, has an area of 39in x 65in = 1.64 m^2, and produces 240/1.64 = 146.3 Watts/m^2. Therefore, its conversion efficiency (ignoring standard STC/PTC measurement conditions for simplicity) is approximately 146.3*100/1000 = 14.6% . The cost of the PV panel (340$ avg) ALONE is about 340/240 = 1.42 $/W. Even lower $/W solar panel costs by shopping around and buying in bulk on the internet.

    This refers to the basic cost of the PV panels only. Additional equipment costs will be incurred for panel mounting rails, wires, circuit breakers and switches for both grid-tied and standalone battery storage PV solar systems, and grid-tie inverters for grid-tied systems, or non-grid-tie inverters, batteries, and battery chargers for standalone PV systems with battery energy storage.

  27. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ananda USA,

    Many thanks. I shall share your info with a good friend of mine who is more knowledgeable than myself on this particular matter. I am sure readers who have done some science & tech will appreciate the trouble you have taken over this whole matter.

    Good luck to you both !

  28. Marco Says:

    Ananda USA
    Perhaps, you would like to share with us the response and any progress from the proposals/presentations you made during the symposium held at GFH (i think 2010) where you,I and many Sri Lankan Diaspora investors were invited to contribute/invest in ideas and future development projects in Sri Lanka.
    I’m particularly interested in your thoughts and experience in the “pit falls” and process of getting the “decision makers” to focus on long term benefits as opposed to short term knee jerk profits/foreign exchange/commissions.

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