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Chinese funding pours into Sri Lanka hydropower projects

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-17-2015 14:39 BJT

By Tom McGregor, freelancer based in Beijing

The beautiful island nation, Sri Lanka stands right off the southeastern tip of India. The country is located in the middle of busy shipping routes in the Indian Ocean.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka's government in Colombo has given the green light in recent years for major infrastructure development to establish the country as a manufacturing and trading hub. Support for large-scale infrastructure projects can also lead many Sri Lankans out of poverty.

Yet, Sri Lanka continues to lack a reliable electric grid, while the country remains dependent on oil imports. Rapid economic growth means rising energy demand, but power outages occur frequently here.

However, Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with plenty of water resources, which create favorable prospects for a strong hydropower sector.

ICBC to finance Broad Lands Hydropower Plant with loan

Chinese investors, banks and companies are looking to engage in more eco-friendly energy projects from all over the world, which include financing hydropower projects in Sri Lanka.

Earlier this month, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) announced that the bank would grant a $US82 million loan to construct a hydropower project in Kithulgala, 90 miles northeast of Colombo, which is expected to add 35 MW (megawatts) for the national grid, according to News.LK Website.

Project developers plan to build a dam – 24-meters high and 113-meters long – across the Kelani River; along with a tunnel – 3.5-km long - that would connect a hydropower plant to be established in Yatiyanthota. Sri Lanka's Ministry of Power and Energy played a leading role to jumpstart the project.

Mixing sun and water for energy

Yes, water appears plentiful in Sri Lanka, but prolonged droughts could dampen the reliability of hydropower. Hence, China-based solar energy company, Hanergy Group, held a forum last September in Colombo to address: Integrating solar and hydropower sources for the country.

Helen Zhang, vice president of Hanergy Group China, pointed to a scientific study showing that Sri Lanka on average gets 5-5.9 hours of sunshine, daily (hrs/d), as compared to 2.2 hrs/d for Germany.

Additionally, Colombo has set an ambitious nationwide target of 20 percent power generation from renewables by 2020 and 100 percent electrification of households by the end of 2015.

"Conventional energy sources such as oil, coal, peat and uranium are depleting rapidly in the world," Zhang told the Sunday Observer. "The world is now focusing on harnessing … renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal wave, biomass and hydropower generation, which is cheap and environment-friendly."

Overcoming a dependency on oil imports

Sri Lanka holds tremendous potential to capture greater prosperity for its citizens, but the nation remains addicted to oil imports, as reported by Sunday Island News.

Sri Lanka imports annually: 2 million metric tons (MMT) of crude oil; 4 MMT of refined petroleum products, as well as $US 5bn of coal, which all account for 44 percent of national energy supply; 25 percent of import expenditures and 50 percent of total export income.

Fortunately, geologists have recently uncovered rich deposits of gas in the country, but for the time being, hydropower stands as the best solution for Colombo to establish its energy independence.

Hanergy is making plans to set up Sri Lanka's largest solar-hydro power project as a bridge to introduce more cost-effective sustainable development for the Sri Lankan people.

Making dreams come true with mini-hydropower plants

The Ceylon Electricity Board had disclosed that Sri Lanka currently has 1,361 MW of hydropower capacity with the potential to generate 400 MW more with further development of small hydropower plants.

Here's where Chinese green-friendly investors can step in to provide more support, financing and construction of mini-hydropower projects in Sri Lanka that can bring in more cash revenues for them while they are doing their part for a Greener World.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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