Sri Lanka reveals plans for 100% renewable energy by 2050

A recent reported jointly published by the Asia Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme has laid out the long-term plan for Sri Lanka’s eventual transition to 100% renewable energy in electricity generation.

The publication, 100% Electricity Generation Through Renewable Energy by 2050 – an Assessment of Sri Lanka’s Power Sector, offers an in-depth look at the approaches that could be taken over the coming years.

Sri Lanka, renewable energy, 2050, 100%, power

As an island nation, Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change. It is one of 43 countries in the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the members of which are committed to reaching 100% renewable energy generation as quickly as possible, and by 2050 at the latest.

There are several obstacles to overcome for Sri Lanka specifically, including increased electricity demand, improvements to infrastructure, and increased investment in renewable technologies.

However, because Sri Lanka imports fossil fuels for energy generation, moving away from them will save Sri Lanka in the region of $5bn USD per year, with cumulative savings from 2017-2050 estimated to be in the region of $20bn.

This will open up finances to improve infrastructure and increase investment in renewable technologies, speeding up the transition away from fossil fuels: a positive feedback loop.

These developments are already underway. In 2017, fossil fuels accounted for 49% of the Sri Lankan energy mix. Renewable sources accounted for 51%, with biomass generating 39% and the rest made up by a range of sources including solar, wind and hydro.

Sri Lanka, renewable energy, power, 2050, 100%

As the country continues to transition as quickly as possible to a zero-carbon society, the share of renewable technologies is expected to increase dramatically. Solar power is predicted to generate around 30% of demand, while wind will generate about 50%.

This is an exponential leap from the current figures; of the current 12% share of renewable technology, hydropower represents 9% and the remaining 3% comes from wind and solar combined.

This increase is expected to come primarily from the adoption of rooftop solar, which will experience rapid uptake due to falling production costs, and battery storage when the technology becomes economically viable.

As an island, there are interesting avenues which Sri Lanka could explore, including the sort of microgrid solutions implemented by Tesla in Hawaii and American Samoa.

There is also a proposed HVDC interconnector which would connect southern India to central Sri Lanka. This link would connect Sri Lanka to a wider grid which links India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

These grids can improve the share of renewable sources in the energy mix, and could help Sri Lanka to reach its renewable goals quicker.

However, one of the challenges of transitioning to a zero-carbon economy is in eradicating carbon production through non-energy generating activities.

Energy generation in Sri Lanka accounts for 41% of greenhouse gas emissions, but other sectors (travel, agriculture, forestry and waste) account for 59%. Decarbonising the entire economy is an important overall aim – decarbonising the energy sector is the best place to start.

Comments

  1. Sri-Lanka seems like a few decades ahead of the rest of the world. Hopefully this will have a ripple effect on Asian countries and by implication – a few of its other counterparts.

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