Buying Power from Multinationals
Posted on April 9th, 2019

By Garvin Karunaratne

Power Cuts to the extent of 2 to 3 hours has been the order of the day and the news is just out that we are about to buy 500MW of Power from three Multinationals Agrico, V Power included, our estimated excess requirements for the next 5 years..

What is also important is to note that we are due to buy power at 28 to 30 rupees a kv/hr, when our current rate is in the area of 24 rupees. 

Compare this price with the rate at which the USA produces power- at 5 cents (US) a kw/hr, which is around Rs. 8.5.

Why have we got into this plight of non having sufficient power. The immediate cause is that we have stopped the Sampur Coal Power Plant and all the sources we currently have cannot meet the demand.

I have been an ardent advocate of wind power ever since the day I gazed at the thousands of wind turbines at Altamont Pass, California turning out power. I stopped my Nissan 300ZX  by the roadside and gazed for over fifteen minutes, because I could not believe my eyes. I was wondering why we did not tap our mountain resource of wind power. At Altamont Pass the power of the wind was nothing like at Madugoda or Ohia, or Ramboda- many vantage points came to my mind- all places where I had  been almost blown off on my eternal  circuits.

I wrote, first to the LMD and the editor was kind enough to publish my Paper:” Candle in the Wind”. That was long ago.

I wrote again and again and questioned why Sri Lanka was always building the wind turbines on the coast and not on the mountains, when every country to which I have happened to travel- to Scotland, to England, to France, to Spain, to Portugal to the USA, to Canada- everywhere the authorities are building the wind turbines in the mountains and never at the coast

Finally my cry reached the ears of Kananga, the engineer who put up the wind turbines at Hambantota. He says that in Sri Lanka the environmentalists have declared that no wind turbines should be put up in the mountains. Instead they have to be on the coast.

I continued my crusade, supported by  the editor of the Sunday Observer and by Noor Nizam,  and finally I have written a book- a compendium of my writings which is due to be published shortly- WIND POWER FOR SRI LANKA’S POWER REQUIREMENTS..

I enclose a few sections of my conclusion and hope that this Paper will reach the higher portals for scrutiny.


I am pleased to submit the Papers I have so far written on Wind Power as a source of Energy, in a booklet in the sheer hope that someday this will be read by one of our leaders who will be convinced that Wind Power is the form of energy that Sri Lanka is blessed with in abundance and will get going all out.”

I have  summarized the case for concentrating on wind turbines to produce power

Firstly, the country will not depend on the supply of coal and oil for power plants and the country can save all the millions and billions  being spent today to import oil and coal.

Secondly it will provide employment for thousands in erecting the turbine towers, in establishing the wind turbines and in the manufacture of the turbine mechanism itself at the later stages. In my travels in France, Spain and Portugal I have seen workers making  the towers, blades, transporting them in long trucks, erecting the towers and maintaining them. That is no difficult task for our engineers and workers.

 One of my readers happened to be an engineer, Mr Kanaga. who was involved with establishing the five wind turbines at Hambantota, the first to be built in Sri lanka. What is most interesting in his comment which I have totally enclosed in this book, is that the  environmental lobby had decided that the turbines should only be erected on the coasts and not in the mountains where there is ample wind force.

Kanaga, that engineer supports my recommendation that  we should use the wind in our mountain area to provide the energy we need.

To my mind it is a crime not to use the wind power available and to spend millions and billions to purchase oil and coal.”

Many opine that wind is undependable.  To them my answer is that the wind is an utterly dependable source of energy. Spain has gone all out to build wind turbines and even sells power to France.

A reader of my Papers, Susantha Wijeytileke has even commented that once at Madugoda he saw a cyclist being blown off the road by the power of the wind.

I must mention that I am not alone in advocating the siting of wind turbines in the mountainous areas of Sri Lanka.

In Windfair, on line  editorial journalist  Trevor Sievert  quotes Lakshman Guruswamy, Sri Lanka has the potential to generate 24,000 MW electricity from wind.” ( Professor Guruswamy further states that studies have shown that nearly 5000 square KM of windy areas are available for potential wind power generation in Sri  Lanka.” (Dated 12/04/2018.)

In, it is stated that in wind power the potential for Sri Lanka  is 20,740MW”

Wind Power in Sri Lanka,a publication by The Asia Business Office (// states that the wind potential in Sri Lanka is 20,740 MW. In  its words there is strong potential for wind power in the North Western coastal regions of Northern Province, the highland areas of the Central Province, Sabaragamuwa and Uva.”

This Study  states that the windy land   can provide 50,000 MW.”.

My thanks are also due to the Editor of the Sunday who in Let there be Light” (Sunday Observer:06/09/2009) commented that my suggestions are very valuable. Referring tro my suggestion that the wind power in the Central Highlands should be harnessed says, This is a timely and valid proposal and the authorities should take  appropriate action to locate wind turbines in  areas which will enable them to reach their maximum potential.”

I am also thankful for Noor Nizam for his Wind Energy Electricity generation is a reality” (Sri Lanka Guardian:27/08/2009)  In his words, Garvin should be commended for his boldness to take to task the lethargic and selfish bureaucrats on this issue of renewal energy development of electricity energy in Sri Lanka…. His message should be well taken  by others too handling  national planning and development strategies  to assist the little island of 21 million to come out of the rut of poverty, misery, the destruction of the civil war and the dependence on foreign powers.”  He adds in the affirmative, As Garvin Karunaratne  wishes Wind Energy Electricity Generation  will be a reality in Sri Lanka for the next generation”.  It is my fervent hope that this will be realized.

The contents of this book convinces any sane thinking person that wind power can be harnessed. We have to learn from mistakes, not make the mistakes rule us. As a country we have to find ways and means of forging ahead,  heedless.

This study proves  beyond all doubt that there is ample wind capacity in Sri Lanka for self sufficiency in our power requirements through harnessing the wind.. There is no question about this..

I am dead certain that Sri Lanka can become self sufficient in all its power requirements not for its present stage but also for its future development through using wind power. The wind power in the Central and Sabaragamuwa Hills is vast. Methods and systems have to be found to harness this energy. However as long as we build wind turbines on the coastal areas and ignore the areas where there is real wind power and satisfy ourselves with studies of the difficulties and constraints,  our attempt will be like  that of a squirrel trying to empty the water in the ocean , carrying a bit of water on its tail,  endless.”

Let us try to look at our situation today. We are short of around 500 MW and we are purchasing it from Power Suply Multinationals and that at a staggering high cost of Rs 28 to Rs 30 per kw/hr. In short we are unable to avoid the power cuts totally.

I am of the firm opinion that Sri Lanka can become self sufficient in all its requirements of power through erecting a few hundred wind turbines in our hill country. Working in the Administrative Service my home was in the hills at Nuwara Eliya, at Kandy, at Kegalla, at Ratnapura, at Matara(including Sinharaja) and for the full eighteen years I worked my traveling claim on circuits equalled or at times surpassed my salary. 

I am aware that some foreign experts have ruled that the coastal areas in Puttlam are ideal. The foreigners would have seen Puttlam. I am dead certain. Why were they not housed in the Forest Circuit Bungalow at Ohia. My take is these days even the prestigious IMF clandestinely made President Jayawardena and Minister Ronnie de Mel accept the neoliberal development model of Milton Friedman and we all fell a prey resulting in Sri Lanka becoming indebted. Anyone doubting can read my book: How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Developmenmt(Godages/Kindle).

Even if our leaders decide to go ahead with Sampoor, it will easily take four years and a massive loan, which we have to pay back.

Instead, let me recommend that our leaders decide to put up a few hundred wind turbines in our hills, instead of building them on the coast trying to fool our leaders that wind pohey have actually become steamrollerwer does not work.

Let me make a suggestion. On my recent visit to worship the Avukana Buddha statue I saw thin tall concrete pillars made by our State Engineering Corporation holding the canopy.  Let us find the engineers who designed it and the unit that made it and ask them to design and make the wind turbines. I am certain that they can do that task. Import the turbine mechanism and get them installed.  Let our Administrators who have got blown off on circuit decide the sites. We have had administrators who knew no lunch intervals and no hours when they get activated. They become steamrollers, urging ahead, unstoppable even facing the wrath of local Ministers who at best can get them an immediate transfer. They would pack their bags and move on to another assignment, yet moving as steamrollers. Our leaders have to find them  and get them going.

If only our President will dare to get into the shoes of our great leader D.S. and get going in the manner DS directed the colonies and Gal Oya, and allow a few of us administrators to tackle this task it can be done. In my days we did  similar tasks. We can be self sufficient in all our Power requirements in a single year. I am dead certain about that. The foreign exchange needed to import the power sets can easily be re couped within six months. The rest of the expenses is in local Rupees- printed money. We will create employment for thousands and save foreign exchange in millions of dollars. We do not require any foreign exchange or foreign loans. Just buy the power sets with the dollars being used to buy coal and oil. That was how I secured an allocation of dollars to buy dyes for the Crayon Factory at Deniyaya in 1972. It was from the funds separated to import crayons. Minister Illangaratne and Controller Harry Guneratne  saved foreign exchange by reducing the imports of crayons.

These words come from a son of Sri Lanka who as the Commonwealth Fund Advisor on Youth to the Ministry of Manpower in Bangaladesh did design and establish the Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh in two years- resulting in an ongoing programme which has guided over two million youths(upto 2011) to become self employed. An entire Ministry of Youth spend 95% of itstime to find drop out children, train and motivate them to become entrepreneurs- 160,000 a year>  It is easily the premier employment creation programme in the world today. That was a task which the ILO had failed to do in Bangladesh in the earlier three years.

It is a far  easier task to get a few hundred wind turbines erected than to motivate and guide youths to become entrepreneurs.

Garvin Karunaratne

Ph.D. Michigan State University.

10 th April 2019

2 Responses to “Buying Power from Multinationals”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    CORRECTION:- Susantha Wijesinghe, Not Wijeytilleke. Nevertheless, my wife is a neice of Late Justice S.R. Wijayatilleke, his late sisters daughter.

  2. Nimal Says:

    Utterly corrupt system and politics are obstructing us setting up solar farms. They disabled my solar panels from the grid.

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