India and Sri Lanka have agreed to work together on building a 135-megawatt solar power plant in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, with the aim of promoting renewable energy.
The project will be implemented in two stages, with a 50-megawatt solar power project and a 220-kilowatt transmission line with a length of 40 km to be constructed in the first stage.
The estimated cost of the first stage is USD 42.5 million, and it is expected to be completed between 2024 and 2025.
In the second stage, an additional 85-megawatt solar power generation plant will be constructed at a total investment of USD 72 million.
Sri Lanka has set a goal of generating 70% of its electricity requirement from renewable energy sources by 2030.
India has expressed a willingness to cooperate with Sri Lanka to promote and strengthen the use of renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power, coastal wind, and biomass.
In September last year, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said that Sri Lanka intends to seek an Indian credit line for the purchase of solar panels as a solution to mitigate the high cost of electricity tariffs.
“We have the problem of foreign exchange, making it difficult to pay for imports. One solution we have to think is to have a credit line from India or China as panels are imported from them,” Wijesekara told parliament.
In August, Sri Lanka hiked the electricity tariff by an average of 75 per cent, after nine years. The government is facing criticism from the Buddhist clergy, who claim that their monthly bills had reached unbearable levels.
Wijesekara said there are over 48,000 consumer connections for religious places. Over 15,000 of them were consuming less than 30 units per month and therefore are not affected in a big way by the tariff hike. Wijesekara said for the rest of the religious sites, which include Buddhist temples, churches, Hindu kovils (temples) and mosques, he was advising to install solar panels.
India has been the biggest provider of aid this year to its southern neighbour, which is fighting its worst economic crisis in more than seven decades and struggling to pay for imports.
Overall, the collaboration between India and Sri Lanka in the energy sector is aimed at promoting the use of clean energy sources and reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.