“Heavy fuel thermal power plant in Jaffna officially commissioned”
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The 24 MW heavy fuel thermal power plant built in Jaffna was officially commissioned yesterday. This power plant built at a total cost of Rs. 3500 million, is solely on local investment by Lanka Electric Company (LECO) and owned by the CEB.

The media spokesman to the Ministry of Power and Energy Dhanushka Ramanayake said that the plan to establish thermal power plants owned by the CEB in the Jaffna Peninsula was taken toward the latter part of June. “Around 121,000 families will receive electricity round the clock from this power plant, fulfilling the electrification requirement of the Jaffna peninsula completely,” he said.

The heavy fuel thermal power plant consists of three turbines, each having the capacity of producing eight MW of power. “The total power capacity of this heavy fuel thermal power plant is 24 MW. The cost per unit of power generation through heavy fuel is around Rs. 15.93 whereas the current cost to generate a unit through thermal power generation is Rs. 19.10,” he said.

The Additional General Manager (projects) of CEB Shavindranath Fernando said that this is the first heavy fuel thermal power station that has completed the Construction work within a short span of around six months. “The planning, and selection of the land at Chunnakkam, establishing of operations offices, power houses and generators was conducted and experimental operations were also conducted before the power generation was added onto the national grid in that short period. Another unique feature was that the technical operations and establishing of generators plus the complete construction was carried out by a local firm Lanka Transformers,” he said.

The project director M.S.A.K. Gunaratne said that the testing stage of power generation of the power plant began on 26 December, while the 24 MW capacity was added onto the national grid yesterday. “Although the test power generations were to commence on 16 January, due to the instructions of the ministry of power and energy to expedite the process, it was commissioned earlier than anticipated,” he said.

Meanwhile the minister of Power and Energy Patali Champika Ranawaka said that with the commissioning of the new Heavy Fuel Thermal Power Station, the older high cost thermal power plants will be decommissioned systematically. “The contract period of the thermal power plant Agrico ended on 31 December, and its contract will not be renewed. Furthermore with the establishment of these CEB owned power stations, the colossal loss of Rs. 2800 million the government has to bear to purchase power from private power stations can now be reduced to around Rs. 1500  million,” added the minister.

The project Director for Lakdhanavi Dhammika Nanayakkara said that construction work of the Jaffna heavy fuel power plant commenced on 01 May last year with around 100 workers. “By August last year however, around 500 workers were engaged in round the clock operations in order to complete the construction work ahead of schedule to facilitate the advanced commissioning of this power plant. The team of local engineers worked with utmost dedication round the clock in order to complete the construction and installation, which is highly commendable,” he said.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) was done by the local engineers while the design and installation was handled by the turn key contractor Lakdhanavi Limited. The power generation is done through three engines with a capacity of 8.5MW each, while the technology used is Diesel Engine Technology. The annual electricity generation of the Jaffna power station is 190 million units.

Nanayakkara further stated that the regular thermal power plants run on regular Diesel which is of high cost. “In this case if the Jaffna power station was built to use the regular diesel technology, power would have to be generated by standby generators, which would have been higher in operational costs. Hence with the use of the furnace oil the cost factor has been reduced dramatically,” he added.

The Norochcholai thermal power plant and the Kerawalapitiya power stations are also based on turbine technology. The Norochcholai power station utilizes a steam turbine technology for power generation while it uses coal as fuel. Kerawalapitiya posses two turbines of gas and steam while it operates on heavy fuel (Furnace oil), said Nanayakkara.