Heading Hybrid Renewable Energy Lights Up Eluvaithivu Island

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By 2017-09-19

By Paneetha Ameresekere

An ADB funded project to provide electricity from renewable energy to Eluvaithivu Island, Jaffna: an island of 800 inhabitants, has proved successful, an ADB report released this month (September) said. The island is 2.9 kilometres away from the nearest mainland point about three km long with an estimated surface of 1.4 square km. It has a small population of around 800 inhabitants.

A pilot project commissioned last year to provide electricity to the island comprised six units of 3.50 kilowatt (kW) small-wind generators rated at 12 metres per second (m/s) wind speeds, 46 kW peak (kWp) alternating current (AC)-coupled solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, 90 kW hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery storage units and three units of 60 kW (3-phase) inverters.

This combination of wind, solar PV and storage systems was backed up by a 25kW diesel generator unit.
The typical daily demand (load) prior to installation was estimated at 283kWh and the actual load at the time of commissioning was found to be 210 kWh (or a total of 76,650 kWh per year). The system was sized to meet total annual demand with about 31,000 kWh (approximately 40 per cent) being supplied by the solar PV system and 45,000 kWh (approximately 60 per cent), cumulatively contributed by the six small-wind turbines, respectively.

Surplus power
Surplus power generated during hours of weak demand was originally intended to provide additional services to the residents; such as for ice-making to preserve fish, desalination of seawater to fresh water for drinking, or relevant amenities for small-scale tourism.
Although these were not implemented on Eluvaithivu Island, such proposed approach is being used on one of the isolated islands in Sri Lanka under separate ADB funding , the report said.
It however, said that early experience with the system suggests that power from wind–solar PV hybrid system would be sufficient to meet the routine demand on the island with minimal usage of diesel generators, thereby achieving the project objectives of reducing generating costs, lowering fuel consumption, and abating carbon emissions. CEB has been working on optimizing the performance of the hybrid renewable energy system on Eluvaithivu. A few of the Palmyra trees obstructing the flow of wind, around two of the wind turbines, were removed by the Ceylon Electricity Board to enhance performance of the turbines.
Encouraged by the performance of the pilot project in Eluvaithivu Island, CEB has decided to replicate the pilot on three other small isolated islands close to Eluvaithivu Island to cater to the estimated power demand on those islands with clean, reliable, and more affordable power generation. Fishing is the principal economic activity on Eluvaithivu Island. Residents struggled to access their fishing boats on their way out to sea and to then unload their catch on their return. CEB built a jetty to help with berthing of the boats. This helped the service provider to establish a rapport with residents and mobilized residents' support in favour of the proposed hybrid renewable energy generation project.

This was crucial for the eventual success of project implementation. Later when a few Palmyra trees had to be removed to allow for the wind to flow past the wind turbines, the villagers wholeheartedly contributed to the project.

Meanwhile, actual average daily energy consumption on the island since commissioning on 27 April 2016 through end of December 2016 was estimated at 243 kWh, with peak demand approaching 370 kWh on 8 June 2016. On an average day, the micro-grid network catered to increased consumption demand between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Power demand on the grid network peaked at 32 kW at about 7 p.m. on an average day.
After the end of the war, the Government was keen to improve the living standards of the island inhabitants, the report said.
Prior to this ADB funded project, the island residents were served by ageing diesel generator sets of 100 kilowatts (kW) and 25kW that were unreliable, well past their economic life and ran on fuel brought on to the island by boat.

These diesel generators were fault prone. Average generation fuel efficiencies were poor at 0.58 litres per kWh. Transportation costs, combined with the generator inefficiency, led to high power generation costs on the island. Retail tariffs however, were subsidized by CEB and tariffs were disconnected from the actual costs of power generation and supply.

The report further said that ADB's 'Supporting Electricity Supply Reliability Improvement Project' includes a component that involves (i) establishing hybrid renewable energy systems comprising wind, solar, efficient diesel generators, and battery storage; (ii) support for productive energy use for small isolated island and rural communities on three other islands in the Jaffna area, namely Analativu, Delft, and Nainativu; and (iii) establishing a renewable energy micro grid system in the Western Province.

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