02nd September 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com
Sri Lanka's LOLC financial group commissioned a 48 kiloWatt solar power array that will supply 15 percent of energy needs at its head office in Colombo, reducing its 'carbon footprint', officials said.
"This is the largest such solar power system set up by the corporate sector in Sri Lanka," LOLC group chief executive Kapila Jayawardena said.
"This would reduce our dependence on the national grid by 15 percent and reduce our carbon footprint."
A 'carbon footprint' is the amount of so-called greenhouse gases usually carbon dioxide, emitted in the course of generating power used by an entity over a period.
Power minister Patali Ranawaka said Sri Lanka's per capita carbon emissions was comparatively low at 600 kilograms a year, compared to 2,200 for India, 5,600 for China and 24,000 for the United States.
He said the government's future power policy was placing more emphasis on renewable sources of energy.
At the moment Sri Lanka's state-run power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board, generated about 40 percent of its energy through renewable sources, Ranawaka said. CEB has substantial large hydro capacity and also private grid connected mini-hydros.
Jayawardena said LOLC also had a motor vehicle service centre which harvested rainwater for 70 percent of its needs and 90 percent of its water was cleaned to 'drinkable quality' water and recycled.
The LOLC head office uses about 50,000 units (kilowatt hours) of energy a month. The firm already had used solar panels in its possession. It had spent 19 million rupees to import inverters and other equipment to connect the solar panels to the building's power supply.
Officials say the 19 million rupees system has a 10-year pay-back period, based on current tariffs of about 13.50 a unit for active power.
Large commercial establishments are charged on units of active power, a fixed fee and another charge for peak demand, which incorporates a cost for reactive power.
Reactive power is needed to transmit power, though not actually 'used'. Solar panels do not generate reactive power and though reactive power can be inserted with the use of capacitors.
Large hydro plants are one of the cheapest sources of renewable energy. Most other sources of renewable energy, especially solar, are expensive and need tax rebates and other subsidies to make them viable.