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As substandard Chinese Thermal Plant in Sri Lanka breaks down, India looks to build a new power plant

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Solar energy in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka an island nation does not have access to good quality fossil fuel resources to provide electricity to its citizens. The country which has around 4000 MW of electricity capacity mainly relies on thermal power for generating power. The biggest plant is the Norochalai thermal power plant of 900 MW capacity that was built by the Chinese. This plant was built using substandard materials by Chinese suppliers and frequently breaks down causing long blackouts in the nation and leading to a disastrous effect on the industry as well as commerce.

Fossil Fuel


The 900 MW Norochalai plant has run into controversy ever since it was conceived in 2006, with locals complaining of deception and fraud while building the plant. Despite the cheap quality inferior material and equipment being used in the plant, Sri Lanka could do little as the Chinese made fools out of the procuring department in Sri Lanka. They can’t sue back as they signed on buying these substandard equipment. So now the Sri Lankans are stuck with a 900 MW plant supplying almost a quarter of their electricity which breaks down most times.

The country mainly operates on diesel backup generators which is expensive to run and polluting as well. In a recent regional meeting, Narendra Modil of India offered the country to build a new power plant run by solar power. India has been a champion of solar energy and is the founder of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).  The country is expected to install 4-5 GW of solar power this year which may go up to 10 GW in the next 3-4 years. This would make it one of the largest users of solar power in the world. Though the country has almost negligible manufacturing of solar equipment, it has very experienced and skilled EPC and contractors who can rapidly build up solar power plants of large sized capacity in a very short time. This solar power plant will also replace India’s offer to build a a thermal power plant in the nation.

Sri Lanka has reportedly refused the offer, and instead asking the Indians to build a power plant run by LNG rather than solar energy. The CEB in Sri Lanka thinks that it can build a solar power plant by itself and wants India to build a LNG or a hydro powered plant. Note hydro is notoriously difficult to run in Sri Lanka because it is dependent mainly on rains which can fail in one year leading to large losses for the hdyro operator of the plant.

In January, CEB’s Technological Engineers Union blamed a Chinese firm for repeated technical failures at Norocholai, the country’s only coal-fired power plant, say they were either caused by sabotage or negligence by the operator. Most international businesses have their own backup generators to use during the outages, and it was not immediately clear how disruptive the July power cuts would be.



Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Manoj Behal

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  2. Manoj Behal

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