Dec 21, 2017

Two new coal power plants opposed

Environmental organizations in Sri Lanka expressed great concern on the proposal to build two new coal power plants in Sampur and Norochcholai despite their rejection by the PUCSL.

We note inherent issues and contradictions in the recent joint cabinet paper (63/2017/PE) outlining the diversification of the energy mix in Sri Lanka's long-term generation plan (LTGP), they said.

Firstly, as per Government policy, the already approved LTGP for 2017-2038 currently in force cannot be changed until 2019; should the ministry need to introduce new proposals, it must wait until 2019 to do so, and seek public comments on all such new proposals. The public, being an energy consumer, has a right to comment on the nature of what they are supplied with for consumption; therefore, giving public opinion prior to the tabling of changes is moreover a consumer right, these organisations said.

The cabinet paper notes in its 'Background' section (1.0) that minimizing environmental impacts in the generation of energy is a priority for the country, and reiterates that when deciding on the generation mix, protecting the environment is of 'utmost priority'.

As environment organizations, , they noted that this point is aligned with the assurances Sri Lanka made to the global community as party to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in April 2016, including in the country position paper that, "Sri Lanka will place her development agenda on a fossil fuel free target".

Nevertheless, later on, the cabinet paper contradicts its previous point, when it allocates 1,200 MW of new power generation to two new proposed coal power plants, ostensibly for the purpose of strategic diversification of the energy mix in order to ensure energy security, they said.