Call for proposals to develop Sri Lankan 20 MW leads to cool response

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A recent call for proposals to develop a 20 MW wind farm in Sri Lanka on a build, own and operate basis appears to have fallen on deaf ears. "The tender seems to have got a lukewarm response as one of the conditions was that the partners should have wind energy project experience," says a spokesman for Sri Lanka's Ceylon Electricity Board, which issued the tender. CEB hopes the wind farm will be built either in Hambantota or Puttalam. A 3 MW pilot wind project in Hambantota, commissioned by CEB in March 1999, is "running well," says the spokesman, but with a plant load factor of 14% instead of the expected 17%. This is because it was relocated from its original site after environmental groups raised concerns about the impact of the project on migratory birds. CEB hopes interest in the 20 MW plan will pick up, however, providing a much needed fillip to wind energy on the island. It is optimistic that financial closure will not be later than January 2004. A 20 year power purchase agreement for the project is already in place. In terms of finance requirement, at least 20% of the total project cost must be financed by the winning project developer. Subject to the approval of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, some concessions and incentives will also be given to ensure high quality and low cost infrastructure can be provided. Meanwhile, however, wind energy appears to be excluded from a recent World Bank grant worth $200,000 awarded to Sri Lanka to promote renewables in the country over the next year. The conditions of the funding put emphasis on thermal applications of biomass instead.

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