Power Shortage
Posted on August 20th, 2020

by Garvin Karunaratne

In view of the current power shortage, I enclose the Conclusion of my book; Wind Power for Sri Lanka’s Energy Requirements(Godages). 

The fact that Wind Power if harnessed in the manner that it has been harnessed in other countries like Spain, France and the USA, can provide the full requirements of power for Sri Lanka has been conclusively proved in the above book. 

The Conclusion of this book is enclosed for kind perusal


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. 

In nostalgia, I can remember what did actually happen in Bangladesh in 1982, when I worked there as the Commonwealth Fund General Advisor on Youth Development to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower in Bangladesh., The Minister for Youth Abul Kasim  was arrested on the charge of harbouring a criminal in his residency. A day later, the Military took over the country in a coup de etat.  Immediately afterwards, the Military Government  in a high powered conference chaired by Hon Aminul Islam, the Minister for Labour and Manpower assessed the programmes of the Youth Ministry. That included imparting vocational training to 40,000 youths a year. The Minister  was not totally impressed with the work done. Suddenly realizing me as the only outsider, I was confronted:  

”What is the contribution you can make for Bangladesh?”  

 I replied: It would be ideal to have a self employment programme to enable the 40,000 youths that are being trained every year to be guided to become entrepreneurs. Most of them are in the ranks of the unemployed even after training, today. ” 

 My reply created an uproar. The Secretary to the Treasury, the highest official in the land objected on the grounds that such a self employment creation programme can never be achieved. He added that the ILO had in the preceeding three years tried to establish a self employment programme in Tangail, Bangladesh and spent a massive amount of funds all in vain. I  argued with the Secretary to the Treasury for over two hours, quoting definite instances where I had successfully established self employment projects for youths in Sri lanka.  It was an intense battle between me and the Secretary with the Hon Minister intently listening.  Finally the Minister stopped our battle. He immediately approved my establishing a self employment pogramme.  The Secretary to the Treasury stumped with the words, that he will never be providing any funds for this wasteful task. I replied that I will find savings within approved training budgets which was approved by the Hon Minister.  

I got cracking with the officials of the Youth Ministry and the Lecturers of the Vocational Training Institutes that provided the vocational training, providing them with a basic knowledge of national planning to identify  areas within the economy where there was a propensity to create employment opportunities and training them in economic endeavour-structuring projects for self employment on a small scale-even with a cow or a dozen chicks and developing the enterprise. My task was to establish the self employment programme and to train the staff to continue after my two year consultancy ended. To a man the officers responded and today this Youth Self Employment Programme has by February 2011 guided  over two millions to become self employed  and it is an ongoing  programme that trains and guides 160,00 youths a year to become self employed. Today, it is easily the premier programme of employment creation  the world has known. 

This experience of mine itself indicates that though wind power for the task of creating power is at an infancy today, we can easily develop it.  

Let me hope that the contents of these papers which prove beyond all doubt that Wind Power can offer all the energy that Sri Lanka needs will someday find a Minister Aminul Islam” who will authorize it. I am certain  that the administrators and engineers who will toil till it is a success can easily be found. 

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 intetresting 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. 

It is sad that the environmentalists were silent when the entire Kotmale Valley was denuded of people and their activities all to create 200 MW of power. That could have been easily achieved with fifty wind turbines scattered within Kotmale itself and the inhabitants and the economy would have been spared extintion. The entirety of Kotmale is dead today. 

Currently the Kitulgala Valley is being destroyed to build a dam to get some 38MW of power and the entire Kitulgala Valley for miles will face destruction. Why were the environmentalists silent when these two projects were approved and implemented?   

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. 

I am convinced that there is an Oil Lobby and a Coal Lobby well financed to prove that wind is not a dependable source. 

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. 

Thanks are due to engineer Kanaga for his comments which are immensely valuable so that I have quoted them as an attachment to my paper.  

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.” (http://w3.windfair.net/wind-energy/news/1q543-sri-lanka-high-wind-energy-potential) 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  www.windpower.lk, 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 (//www.asiabiomass.jp/English/topics/1601_04.html) 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.” 

  In Sri Lanka Wind farm Analysis and Site Selection Assitance,  M. Young and R Vilhauer of The Global Energy Concept, Kirkland, Washington state: 

Sri Lanka has considerable available land with wind resource potential sufficient for development. However, the  wind power capacity expansion is limited by the electricity transmission infrastructure. CEB estimates that the grid cannot accommodate additional wind capacity more thgan 7% of the peak load. The CEB estimates that  installing more than 20MW of wind capacity in any given region may adversely impact local grid instability and power quality. 

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

It is important to note that it is not the lack of wind power that holds up the utilization of wind power to produce electricity. Instead it is the grid capacity. Tackling the grid capacity is another kettle of fish. This is an area that has to be addressed. I will not be surprised if our  experts who yet think that wind turbines should be built to harness the sea breeze and not the wind power in our mountains  will come up with another cock and bull story stating that a grid cannot be built.  

In the construction of the wind turbines at the Senok Wind Farm in Puttlam, where four wind farms established have a capacity of 40MW, it was found that the existing port facilities in the main port of Colombo and the road network was found wanting for the import of the turbine towers and blades. Instead these had to be obtained through barges from India.  The maximum height of the turbine tower is 90 meters and each blade is 50 meters in length. I have seen long towers and blades being transported by road in France and Spain. This needs special transport. In the hilly areas in Sri lanka it will be more feasible to construct the towers and blades on site. These are areas that have to be addressed in any development. Where there is a will, there is also a way.  

My thanks are also due to the Editor of the Sunday Observer.lk 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 last paper  states of how the new owner of the Hambantota Port has insisted on a massive payment as ground for the five wind turbines. The CEB has decided to dismantle the five wind turbines.  This is a sad epitaph for wind power use in Sri Lanka.  

However 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. However, as in any field of development, be it agriculture or industry, there are problems that have to be surmounted.  As stated the national grid has to be developed to carry the power from areas where it is generated to the areas where the power is consumed. Perhaps there can be local grids to carry the power generated from  a local wind farm to a local district capital. For instance if wind farms are located in Dela on the Kirigalpotta hillock, a grid can carry the power to the town of Ratnapura.  

Sri Lankan engineers have in ancient times done wonders. The gradient of the Jaya Ganga that carried the waters of the Kala Weva to the tanks in Talawa and Anuradhapura has been constructed at a gradient of six inches in a mile, a gradient that baffles the irrigation engineers of today.  

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, 

3 Responses to “Power Shortage”

  1. Nimal Says:

    I had trouble getting the electricity board to pay for the excess electricity put in to the grid.Courruption I say.I and my overseas friends wanted to set up a big solar farm but from the beginning deliberate obstacles were put by the authorities.We effortlessly did that in Perth and I am a shareholder getting the vital income now to ride out this hard times.
    Sri Lanka could get all the people involved in power generation by getting the funds from countries like China, Canada and Germany. Germany could supply the grid connected inverter and China and Canada could supply the best solar panels that could be installed in every house and every building. With a government guarantee our finance companies and banks could fund the individuals.
    Government could go further to help the people by getting the houses nearby collectively supply their solar generated power to charge the heavy cadmium batteries that would store the collected solar powered electrical energy to be used 24 hours to charge electrically generated vehicles. Alternative is to use the power from the national grid to charge the electric cars. Here in London they got the German company Siemens to install converters in almost on every lamp post to charge ones car where payment is paid by a debit/credit card. This is a good way for the national and local governments to get extra revenues.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    IT WAS ME, SUSANTHA WIJESINGHE who commented the cyclist getting blown off his cycle, at Madugoda. That area is extremely windy. There are old Tyres on all the roofs, to prevent the zinc roofing sheets getting blown off.

  3. Cerberus Says:

    I agree with Mr. Karunaratna. We should use wind power which is freely available. If we use a combination of wind and solar then we will have plenty of power. During day time when there is a lot of usage by offices for air conditioning etc. we can have solar and in the night when the demand is not so high wind power will be plentiful to supply the power we need. I have put many articles showing how Germany has reached almost self-sufficiency by the use of solar and wind power. What they did was to offer a guaranteed price for electricity generated by renewable means for 20 years. The investment was done by the private sector and as a result, now Germany has shut off many of its coal plants and also nuclear power plants. Even in the USA in spite of opposition from the oil and coal lobby, there are many wind power units in Texas, California eta. We do have some very corrupt politicians and officials who will destroy the country for the sake of making commissions on coal. It may be that during the cold war Sri Lanka was forced to get low-grade coal from India. As you say in Sri Lanka in order to generate hydropower we have flooded the land in many areas which is a crime since we have a shortage of land. Our short-sighted politicians get big commissions by building dams so they go for hydropower. 

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