Friday, May 29, 2009

Breaking Wind in Sri Lanka

Wind power is the fastest growing industry in the alternative energy sector. Wind turbines generate clean and green power for us but they have certain precondition.One of it is the power unit has to be set up in strong wind area. But Green Energy Technologies has developed a brand new wind power generator known as the WindCube. It is smaller compared to the normal wind generator. WindCube is specially designed to set up on the roof of a building in urban and rural areas. WindCube carries a 22 x 22 x 12 feet framework and its single unit can produce a maximum of 60kW of power. Mark L. Cironi, who is the president and founder of Green Energy Technologies, explains, “Building owners anywhere can consider being a part of the renewable energy picture. With WindCube, it’s not necessary to have the wind of Kansas or Nebraska to become a generator of wind power. In states with excellent renewable energy incentives, moderate wind and high electric rates, the payback can be as little as three years.”

CEB took the initiative to carry out a detailed wind-monitoring programme in the south-eastern part of the country in 1988. The area covered under this project was about 1500 km2. Initial studies of wind resource assessment in the Southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka was conducted during the period from 1988 to 1992 with financial and technical assistance from the Government of the Netherlands. The study revealed that the total potential of wind power generation in the South-eastern part of the country to be 200 MW. This excluded the land area for wild life reserves and agriculture.

Following the resource assessment phase, CEB started to plan its first grid-connected wind power plant of capacity 3 MW to be sited in Hambantota on the south-eastern coast. It was planned as a pilot plant for CEB to get hands-on experience and also to study the implications of integrating wind power into the grid system. Feasibility study and design of the plant were carried out using the database developed by the earlier wind resources study.

The total capacity of the pilot wind farm is 3 MW consisting of 5 wind turbines of 600 kW each. The expected annual energy generation is around 4.5 GWh. The project was financed by the World Bank and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and was commissioned in March 1999. The total project cost was around Rs. 280 million, of which 66% was foreign funds and 34% local. The foreign cost of the project was financed by the World Bank and the Global Environmental Fund, whereas the total local cost was borne by the CEB. Approximately 25% the foreign cost was provided by GEF as grant.

The semi-annual progress report for year 2000 for this project is available at SAR. This report consists of two sections (A) Pre construction and construction experience and (B) Update on the energy production and operational problems associated with the project. The objective of the report is to share the experiences of the pilot project with the general public and to assist and guide future wind power developers in Sri Lanka.

Although Practical action sites some very valuable information regarding wind energy here, the doing part is more or less non existent. when I contacted them last year with regard to a project that I was working on, an irritated person at the other end said that they haven't done any wind turbine projects in Sri Lanka.

How ever I do recall in 2005 reading a leaflet with regard to a company which manufactures domestic wind turbines in Sri Lanka. I was unable to locate them.

With the present state of develepmont in Hambantota I would like to see if setting up of some more windturbines to the already existing bunch would be economically viable.