Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) together with the University of Moratuwa (UOM) launched a pioneering pilot project on Microgrid with a grant assistance of $ 1.8 million (approximately Rs. 325 million) from Asian Development Bank (ADB). DIMO, together with the German specialist DHYBRID, has been selected for the supply of comprehensive Renewable Energy Microgrid consisting of power generation and storage, a model which can be scaled up for uninterrupted power distribution for customers across the country.
The pilot project contains a commercial Microgrid and R&D facility which will be used as a research platform for the studies in nature of renewable energy integration and smart grids. The data obtained from the commercial Microgrid as well as the equipment and simulation environment will facilitate these R&D functions towards meeting the predefined research targets. The UOM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LECO in establishing the “LECO Smartgrid Laboratory” and the facility will be maintained by LECO for the first 20 years. South Asia Energy Division of ADB with Ministry of Power and Energy conceptualised this intervention as a part of its continuous assistance to expand clean energy development in Sri Lanka. LECO, as one of the pioneering distribution utilities who is always willing to embrace these new concepts, was selected as the instrument to realize this concept. The UOM premises was selected to be the site for the pilot cross-sectoral project due to the many advantages it offers. UOM will provide the rooftops and laboratory location and a set of targets are to be met by UOM post the commissioning. The initial investment and capacity development support are financed through ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility.
“ADB has been a long-term partner in Sri Lanka’s energy sector development. Our assistance in the clean energy, includes Sri Lanka’s first large scale 100MW wind park in Mannar, 30MW hydropower station in Moragolla and the solar rooftop credit line, among others. Similarly, ADB has been supporting the strengthening of power evacuation from distributed renewable energy generation both at transmission and primary distribution level, in addition to its support for both supply side and demand side energy efficiency improvements. ADB is always committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s inclusive energy sector development focussing on clean energy with new and innovative technologies and solutions”, said ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Dr. Chen Chen.
Acting General Manager of LECO Dr. Narendra De Silva said, “LECO is always dedicated to maintaining a safe and hassle free electricity supply to our customers around the clock on their demand. This project, will be developed as a solution for power interruptions consumers face due to breakdowns as well as outages during maintenance activities. During such power failures, solar inverters also withdraw from the system by anti-islanding protection, driving even the customer who has sufficient power to power up their premises through their solar generation, go out of power.”
“Microgrids are identified as a solution for these problems where it can increase the hosting capacity of the distribution network and can feed the power to the network when the grid is not available, since the excess power can be stored while storage issues like reverse power flow and subsequent voltage issues are also expected to be mitigated. Through this pilot project, LECO will seek the possibility of replicating the concept for other transformers and similar premises, to improve power supply reliability and the lessons learnt through this project will be shared internationally”, he further added.
Furthermore, he highlighted the notable contribution and assistance from ADB and in particular, the strong support from Dr. Yongping Zhai, Chief of Energy Sector Group, Dr. Priyantha Wijayatunga, Director of South Asia Energy Division, Dr. Mukhtor Khamudkhanov, Dr. Aiming Zhou, and Mr. Ranishka Wimalasena, Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya and Mr. Upali Daranagama for formulating this novel concept.
Chairman & Managing Director of DIMO, Ranjith Pandithage said, “As a company which plays a significant role in Power sector through Transmission and Distribution projects and Power Generation – mainly focusing on Renewable Energy, we are indeed privileged to work together on this historic project that will take local power supply to the next level. DIMO’s highly-qualified and experienced team of engineers are assigned to execute this project while sharing the knowledge with our German partner DHYBRID. We believe that this project will help DIMO to enhance the expertise in developing the Microgrid concept in Sri Lanka. DIMO has also been contributing to the constructing of the utility grid of Sri Lanka for the past 50 years.”
Director of DIMO Wijith Pushpawela stated, “Microgrid concept is experimented and utilized not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world and is recognized as the latest innovation in Power Generation and Distribution, as this will completely exclude the Power Transmission, giving financial benefits while also improving the quality of power. If this concept suits Sri Lanka, the country will look at establishing Microgrids in the long run to improve national power supply”.
Fabian Baretzky – Country Manager of DHYBRID commented, “We are honoured and proud to be a part of the exciting transition of the energy system in Sri Lanka together with our partner DIMO. We believe that LECO is pursuing an ambitious and an advanced approach to increase renewable energy penetration in the grid while at the same time enhancing the resilience of the grid. Together with DIMO, we plan to further support the transition of the country towards a more independent and greener energy system”. DHYBRID is a specialized international solution provider of renewable and hybrid energy systems for industries, utilities and islands. They combine conventional energy supply, such as diesel generators or unstable utility grids, with renewable energy systems and storage technology – perfectly controlled and comprehensively visualized.
This partnership of ADB, LECO and UOM with strong expertise and wide experience of implementing, together with DIMO and DHYBRID, would undoubtedly help Sri Lanka’s strong drive for clean energy development and in achieving the target of 70% of its power generation from clean energy sources by 2030.