Sunday, 12 July 2020 09:53

SOLAR POWER: CEB back to bidding

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has gone back to competitive bidding for solar power tariffs, despite Minister of Power and Energy Mahinda Amaraweera appealing for fixed prices to be set for renewable energy and abandoning competitive bidding in January.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, CEB Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath said competitive bidding would only be applied to industrial solar power plants that generate more than 1 MW.

“Competitive bidding is not applicable for rooftop solar power plants and therefore, there won’t be a tariff change on those,” he stressed.

Elaborating on the importance of going for a competitive bidding process for renewable energy, the CEB Chairman stressed that unit prices of solar power had drastically reduced over the years and that competitive bidding would help the CEB to purchase solar power at the market rate.

“The price of a unit of solar power at present, with competitive bidding, is between Rs. 12 and Rs. 15. Currently, the CEB is paying Rs. 22 per unit, which is more expensive than the market price,” he said, adding that the price reduction was not something which had been done by the CEB, but is a result of a natural process which occurred over the years.

Under the new system, the CEB would go for competitive bidding every six months and as a result, the Board expected to purchase solar power at a most recent and cheaper rate.

Explaining the current situation, Herath stressed that the Board is incurring a loss of around Rs. 10 per solar power unit with the current purchasing rate. “The unit price at present is around Rs. 22 and even if we reduce Rs. 4 as a production cost, the CEB still would be incurring a loss of around Rs. 10 per unit.”

Meanwhile, solar power industry representative alleged that the CEB was planning to reduce the unit cost of rooftop solar power, which, as they said, could bring the rooftop solar industry to a standstill, resulting in a large number of job losses and bringing in major barriers to achieving the Government’s policy of 80% renewable energy by 2030.

A statement issued by the Solar Industries Association (SIA) stated: “We have been informed recently that a group of high-level government officials are planning to reduce the unit cost of electricity offered to rooftop solar power, which will have severe negative impacts on the industry as well as on the Sri Lankan economy as a whole.”

“We have reason to believe a group of officials supporting the diesel and coal mafia are attempting a conspiracy to disrupt local entrepreneurship in the solar industry and to change government policy in a subtle way so that they can bring in long-term emergency power at a huge cost to the country,” the SIA alleged.

According to them, the rooftop solar industry has thus far created 25,000 local entrepreneurs and over 10,000 job opportunities, together with economic development worth over Rs. 40 billion.

(The Morning)

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