India and Sri Lanka plan undersea power transmission project

SRI LANKA - India and Sri Lanka are firming up plans to lay a 285-kilometer (km) undersea power transmission line between the two nations at an estimated cost of $450 million.

Work on the project is expected to commence within the next two weeks.

A delegation of experts from India will travel to Sri Lanka within that time and meet with W.D.J. Seneviratne, Sri Lanka's Power and Energy Minister, and specialists from the energy sector for detailed discussions on the project.

The submarine link will initially facilitate exports of 500 megawatt (MW) of electricity from India to Sri Lanka by 2009-10.

The capacity will later be scaled up to 1,000 MW by 2011-12. With the completion of ongoing power generation projects, the southern region of India is expected to have large surplus supplies of power by 2012, with a peak surplus of 6,000 MW and off-peak surplus of 12,300 MW.

The undersea link will eventually be geared to enable the exchange of electricity between the countries. Sri Lanka is likely to generate surplus electricity when ongoing large-scale power generation projects are commissioned between 2015 and 2018. The undersea power transmission network will then be used to direct surplus electricity from Sri Lanka to India.

The project will connect Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India, with Anuradhapura in the north central province of Sri Lanka. This will involve a 139-km overhead transmission cable from Madurai to Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, a 39-km undersea link between Rameswaram and Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, and a 125-km overhead transmission line from Thalaimannar to Anuradhapura. Two HVDC terminal stations will be set up at the two ends of the transmission link, which will be connected to Sri Lanka's national power grid.

The undersea cable will be laid on the seabed similar to undersea Internet and telecom cables. It will be fitted with safeguards against electrocution in the event of damage by sharks or ship anchors. An optical fiber cable will be laid alongside the power cable to monitor the link and to provide additional telecom capacity between the countries.

State-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Limited conducted a feasibility study to estimate the project's costs, benefits and feasibility from both technical and economic perspectives. India and Sri Lanka have set up a joint steering committee to oversee the project. The two nations have also formed a task force to study the feasibility report and put forth its recommendations to the joint steering committee.

The task force comprises representatives from both countries, including officials from the Union Power Ministry, the Central Electricity Authority (New Delhi), Power Grid Corporation, Sri Lanka's Energy Ministry and the Ceylon Electricity Board.

Sri Lanka currently has 2,404 MW of installed power generation capacity, with hydropower stations accounting for 54% of the total power generation and thermal power stations accounting for the rest. The country generates 8.7 million megawatt-hours of electricity every year.

Households consume 40% of the electricity produced while industrial and commercial establishments account for the remaining consumption.

The government aims to provide electricity to 90% of its population by 2010 and will need to increase the installed capacity by 550 MW with an investment of $2.5 billion.



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