The Asian Development Bank has approved a $115m loan to help Sri Lanka in strengthening the reliability of its electricity supply.

The bank has also approved $3.8m in grants, consisting of $2m from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and $1.8m from the Clean Energy Fund under the ADB-administered Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility.

As part of the project, hybrid renewable energy systems and energy storage system such as lithium-ion batteries will be installed for communities on three isolated islands in the Jaffna area in the Northern Province (Analativu, Delft, and Nainativu).

The energy systems uses a a combination of wind, solar and efficient diesel generation.

The project also includes the installation of a micro grid in the Western Province.

The existing medium voltage network in the country will be upgraded with new lines and with the installation of required equipment.

Rural electrification network will be extended with thousands of kilometres of low voltage lines and households will be connected to the national grid.

Under the project, micro-grid scheme will be installed as pilot, which will be financed by Clean Energy Fund and it can demonstrate cost-effective management of power resources and reduce the burden on the national grid.

The ADB said this is the first time that such a project is being trailed in Sri Lanka. Japan will provide support in training rural community members on the safe handling of electrical equipment and potential livelihood opportunities coming from reliable power supplies.

Apart from this, upgrading to medium voltage network can also improve electricity quality and reliability which will be supplied to more than 493,000 customers.

Rural upgradation will help in delivering reliable electricity to more than 35,700 rural households. This project will have a life for 5 years and is expected to be completed in September 2021.

ADB principal energy specialist Mukhtor Khamudkhanov said: “Sri Lanka’s national electrification rate has gone from 29% to 98% in the space of 25 years, but some areas particularly in former conflict-affected zones and on small isolated islands still struggle with an unreliable power supply.

“Small island communities are forced to use expensive, inefficient diesel generation sets that deliver only intermittent electricity supplies. The project will help meet the needs of areas that have been missing out through upgrades to the medium voltage network, the rollout of over 2,300 kilometers of low voltage line extensions, and the construction of hybrid renewable energy mini-grids.”

Image: The Asian Development Bank approves $115m to Sri Lanka to improve grid reliability. Photo: Courtesy of Asian Development Bank.