28 January, 2021

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A Primer On A Hot-Topic: A Laymen’s Guide To Power Blackouts

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

There is a buzz around this topic for obvious reasons and this brief primer is an attempt to provide a few theoretical insights in laymen’s language. I will deal mostly with general principles or with events of some time ago and not touch on the blackouts of September 2015, February 2016 and March 2016 because of my involvement in some aspects of an ongoing investigation. There are different ways in which to approach the topic and I have chosen to do so under the subheadings ‘The System as a Whole’, ‘Planning and Management’ and ‘Equipment’. Power system blackouts are topics esoteric to non-specialists, so occasionally a didactic tone may creep in – apologies for that.

Not only in recent months, but previously too our system, and systems around the world, have shut down. It is the behaviour of the network, that is the functioning of the system as a whole, that holds the key to the problem; it is not the repetition of the same defect time and again. I will make a start by throwing light, as simply as possible, on the cohesion of the network.

The system as a whole

The electricity supply system consists of dozens (in a large country hundreds) of alternating current (AC) generators connected to hundreds of load points by a network. I am referring to high voltage of transmission interconnections. Lower distribution networks that tap power from the transmission network (grid) and convey it to a multitude of individual loads are usually not significant in the security and stability of the system of generators and transmission lines as a whole. Each generator does not service a particular load; rather, the output of all generators is “pooled” into the transmission grid. Individual distribution systems (municipalities, industries, rural regions) tap power from the grid in much the same way as a housing estate taps the water-main and then distributes water to individual housing units. There is one critical difference though; electricity cannot be stored in the grid, therefore there has to be a near instantaneous balance of production and consumption of electric energy.

Two sinusoidal waves of the same frequency;  displaced in phase but in lock-step with each other

Two sinusoidal waves of the same frequency;
displaced in phase but in lock-step with each other

The crucial point about the grid is that it is the critical structure that binds all the generators and loads into what in the jargon is called a synchronised system. A large-scale blackout is a failure of all or part of the interconnection. Power supply networks are interconnected for three reasons; viz as load varies the cheapest generators can be run and the more expensive ones held back for use at peak time only; second, power from different areas and types of plant (think Laxapana and Norochcholi) can be sent to far flung load centres depending on needs and availability, and third a large strong interconnection is stable against all but the most serious disruptions. Nicola Tesla proved conclusively that AC is superior to direct current (DC) for electricity supply. The reasons will take me too far from my topic today.

Interconnection however hides a secret; it is like the mighty warrior Achilles who could be fatally wounded in the heel. His mother Thetis dipped the infant in the underworld river, the Styx, to make him invulnerable, but overlooked the detail that she was holding him by his heels. AC systems, excellent for handling large amounts of power, too have their Achilles heel. In normal operation all generators must work at strictly the same frequency, the sinusoidal shape (if you remember it from school) of their voltage waves must all oscillate at the same rate. The waves can, and must, be slightly out of phase (shifted) from each other – see figure – but must maintain a lockstep of frequency during steady operation. All system wide blackouts eventually are the result of synchronism (lockstep operation) being disrupted by big external or internal shocks, causing generators to attempt to run at different frequencies leading to failure of harmonized operation.

This cannot happen easily. When faults, unexpected load changes and other disruptions of small or medium magnitude disturb synchronous operation, powerful inherent corrective effects (synchronising power flows) take place between different portions of the system and pull generators and regions into stable synchronism again. However, very large disturbances, improper design, or incorrect operation can undermine this, causing too many important transmission lines to trip-out or too many generators to disconnect. If there is large loss of transmission capacity the paths available for stabilising power flow between errant generators are inadequate. Or if too many generators become disconnected, load demands exceed the simultaneous production of power and the whole system slows down, frequency declines and a cascade of events force the system to grind to a halt. This is how blackouts occur.

I don’t know if the following analogy is helpful. The body is ceaselessly exposed to germs, radiation and genetic mutations but the immune system continuously overcomes and corrects the ‘faults’. Similarly in power systems, the natural laws of physics, not automatic control mechanisms (though they can help), cause synchronising power to flow in the correct direction between disturbed generators in an attempt to restore the normal lockstep. If the assault on the immune system exceeds the ability of the immune system to cope, the body goes down, likewise no electricity supply system can ensure 100% reliability (the best like Hong Kong offer 99.9%). No immune system can promise eternal life. The converse is not true; every time poor reliability is manifested in electricity supply it is not proof of some eternal law of physics. It could well be the outcome of poor planning, design or operation. It all depends; and this is why big blackouts need to be investigated at a high professional level. The cost to society of an eight-hour all-Island blackout is in the range of tens of millions of rupees.

Transmission lines are exposed to regular lightning strikes, fully loaded generators may trip out for unforeseen reasons, and transformers may fail. The system is designed and operated to be secure against any one such “single outage”, also called “N-1 secure” (N is jargon for the whole lot). Computers in System Control Centres continuously repeat simulations of what could happen after any single-outage and human controllers adjust the operational status (usually change load sharing between generators) if the system is seen to be insecure for a “credible outage”. If in a real world case, a single transmission line trip, a single generator disconnection, or one transformer failure, causes a system-wide botch, it is usual to blame system operators for failing to live up to expected standards of security.

Planning and management

The expansion of the power system has to be planned at least a decade ahead and the plans regularly updated (rolling plan) and Lanka’s experience from the Laxapana days through the great Mahaweli Complex period (both irrigation and power) has been exemplary up to the 1990s. The Irrigation Department, Mahawelti Authority and CEB planners coordinated with top-class foreign consultants and international funders to do Lanka proud. However, from the time private power projects were introduced (and Puttlam coal power inexplicably delayed for two decades) the planning experience has been murky. Allegations of a financial nature have often surfaced, mostly against high political personalities at the taking-end and business on the giving-side. I am not implying that private sector involvement in power projects is necessarily corrupt, but I am saying that Lanka’s experience has been problematic.

The involvement of politicians in project decision making (these are not in the multi-million but the multi-billion rupee range) has been a curse as it contributes to wrong decisions, wrong sequencing of project options, cost overruns and interference with investigations of system failures (yours faithfully has first-hand experience of one such bigtime mystery in 2009). CEB engineers are technically sound, but the overall structure of the organisation has not undergone radical rethinking for a long time – maybe not since LECO was spun off (I may be wrong here). Privatisation is no solution but restructuring will be a boost. An open structure with greater transparency and public participation and the creation of advisory committees that include outside experts (even a foreigner or two) which meet say twice a year to review ongoing work and make recommendations will, I believe, strengthen the organisation both in fact and in image.

Prof KKYW Perera has mentioned to me the usefulness of a twin-ladder system for cadre advancement for engineers, after an initial say ten year period needed to round off experience. One ladder to be a specialist stream (like consultants, to take an analogy from medicine); the other will be generalists whose aspirations are more managerial and seek a location along the corporate ladder. It would be useful to revive consideration of this option.

The CEB has, by its intrinsic nature and traditions, evolved into an organisation which will not function well unless ‘pole-positions’ are occupied by able engineers. But there are thousands of others, technicians and administrators, who are overlooked when discussion focuses on engineers. This is not good and I would like to devote a separate piece to this facet at a later date. In any case this article is not, and cannot pretend to be, a comprehensive review. As indicated at the start, it attempts to bring some important topics to the attention of interested laymen.

Equipment

What goes without saying is that the best available, at an affordable price, must be procured and coordination ensured, for example among protection systems and between protection systems and the plant to be protected. Most laymen are unaware that protection accounts for no more than 1% or 2% of the total costs of a power plant or transmission line, but at critical moments is role is supreme, like the umpire in a cricket match – a clothes peg, momentarily transformed into kingmaker.

Everybody in Lanka has heard ad nauseam of the need to strengthen procurement and tendering procedures and exasperation has brought many to the point of exclaiming: “Let the bastards take their 10%, but for heaven’s sake make the right choices!” I need say no more.

Aside from drawing attention to protection equipment and the importance of proper procurement, there is one other matter about power stations that will be of interest. Hydro plant is mechanically robust and uncomplicated; gas turbines are a little more complex. Thermal power stations involve a boiler, steam circuit, turbine, generator, condenser, feed-water pump and thousands upon thousands of other auxiliaries; this is a different ballgame. Not only are there thousands of pumps, relays, switches and whatnot that can malfunction causing shutdown or derating of the main plant, but the start-up and shutdown routines are far more complex and time consuming. Norochcholi 900 MW is the largest power station now, Sampur-1 (500 MW Indian) will be the next giant to be followed by Sampur-2 (1200 MW with Japanese help) which will be the biggest monster among them all. A lot of operational training needs to be done.

What next after these last two coal projects? We need to plan two decades ahead. Encouraging green energy (wind, solar, bio and mini-hydro) is vital but will not add to more than about 15% of total energy needs, at best, for another generation. What are our power planners thinking longer term? I will bite my tongue and sign off at this point.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Can you tell us something about reactive power in a system please? The first failure is supposed to have occurred due to inability to control system reactive power.

    • 0
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      I found it very hard to find a way of explaining reactive power to laymen and avoided the topic. Let us just say that it is that component of current that flows in the system without transporting energy. It has a profound effect on system voltages.

      Yes the September 2015 failure happened because the CEB had not studied the reactive power issue at sufficient depth and had not installed reactive compensators and SVCs at strategic locations. When some generators tripped out at very light-load nighttime, and their reactive absorption capacity was lost, system voltage started rising in many locations because of excess reactive floating around. Most of the subsequent cascade tripping-out was done by over-voltage protection.

      • 0
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        I agree it is very difficult to explain to a layman. But in some articles that I wrote to IESL I managed to do so to some extent. But this will require not one but at least 3 articles.

        If I send you them rewritten with more simplification could you kindly check the suitability?

        Thanks.

        • 0
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          Retired professors anywhere in the world get a consultation fee for that type of work.
          Architect Bawa learnt a lesson by letting folk get in free to his landscaped garden.

  • 2
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    The question is, what are our power planners thinking short term by dumping filthy coal plants in Sampur (as though one was not enough, TWO) that you so glibly gloss over at the end (now don’t tell me it’s because you won’t be alive to see the consequences!!!). Come on doc, you should know better. A great explanation, spoiled at the end because you’ve taken the Anura Wijepala route out (unless your signature is on the paper as well!)

    • 6
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      It is true that I avoided the dispute about the two coal fired plants planned for Sampur. This was because this dispute is a huge topic in its own right and deserving of a separate article.

      Let me give you my view (which I know you and many others will dislike). Yes I agree that coal power is dirty and environmentally degrading. Yes we must try to get over it. But in my (unpopular) view it is simply impossible to do at once. So I believe that for the next 10 years or so the choice is either Sampur 1 & 2, or power cuts and slowed economic growth. Take your choice!

      Green energy cannot fill the gap in the foreseeable future (10 to 20 years) in the case of Sri Lanka. So the big, REAL challenge, in my view, in the case of Sri Lanka, is what to do after Sampur 1 & 2.

      • 4
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        Kumar

        You are spot on.

        We need Sampur in the interim for about 10-15 years.

        If not There would be power cuts on a continuous basis by 2020 or could be even earlier.

        Jagath

      • 1
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        Whether I like it or not is immaterial. What I am more interested in is a scientific explanation as to WHY you think so.

        Kindly elaborate on “Green energy cannot fill the gap in the foreseeable future (10 to 20 years) in the case of Sri Lanka” as the environmentalists speaking today (many of whom I believe are also engineers) are of the opinion that it can. Wind, solar, tidal harnessing, why are these things out of reach?

        People at the CEB seem to be coming up with all kinds of excuses as to why coal is cheaper. Yet in Mexico (of all places) it appears that such is far from the case: http://cleantechnica.com/2016/04/01/mexico-awards-1720-megawatts-wind-solar-first-power-auction/

        • 2
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          Bagehot, the Answer to your Question is, that Sri Lanka cannot afford anything more expensive because The Government is still struggling to Pay off Debts, due to Mismanagement by the Previous Government!

          You can compare it with this Situation. If you had to make do with a Cheaper Car, because you could not Afford a more Environmentally friendly Version.

          • 1
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            There seems to be a story being made that Sampur coal powered electricity is cheap. This is not true. If it is so, why is the CEB or Ministry not declaring the same?

            1. It has the lowest efficiency for a subcritical plant (33% according to CEB generation plan).
            2. The actual efficiency will be even lower when the CEA required changes are done.
            3. The plant costs exclude USD 150 Million (jetty) and other infrastructure costs which are directly to be borne by GoSL.
            4. A powerline needs to be done from Sampur to Veyangoda. Costs USD 450 Million. Goes through numerous forests and reserves.
            5. After excluding 50% of the total cost and passing it to GoSL, the TPCL sells electricity to CEB at Rs 20. This too on a dollar contract so everytime Rupee drops, we pay more.
            6. If we add the destruction it does to the local community and ecology of Trincomalee (Norachcholai has done irreversible damage there already), this is perhaps one of the most economically bad power projects in the world!

            It is sad people keep parroting out coal is cheap without looking at the facts. These numbers are publically available for people to see.

            In the meantime, Mexico contracted over 1GW of soalr and wind at 4 US cents per kWh last week at the first public auction. The second option is also planned. Note that this is cheaper than the actual costs of coal currently purchased for Norachcholai.

            Technology has evolved as the prices. Solar + storage is actually cheaper than coal! We need new technology, not technology two centuries old.

            • 0
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              While I agree with you completely, it would be more helpful if you could please cite your sources.

              • 2
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                armchair bandit Doubting Thomas.

                then offer your counter sources to negate what he has given.

                • 2
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                  Dragos

                  “armchair bandit Doubting Thomas. then offer your counter sources to negate what he has given.”

                  Are you talking to yourself?

                  It is perfectly alright, most of us do it infrequently.

                  However, we don’t type it here in this forum.

                  Please keep your computer away from your fingers.

                  • 0
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                    Native Vedda
                    School teacher keep your stuff to your idiots please
                    don’t bother about my pc or fingers they are better than yours ambude life.
                    You are getting old call off and stay with your family.
                    you are like idiot obama

                  • 0
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                    Native Vedda
                    “if you could please cite your sources. “
                    my response was to that question-
                    because it has become common for shrewd idiots to ask ask they don’t know (piracy principal)
                    While Vid has taken the trouble to describe as best as possible. So the counter request in detail.

                    I see you asking similar from other (sach) who ruled kandy and when etc- his_story.
                    i am aware the clerk n.v. and his troop has the answer for that because history is your subject .I did not interfere because I did not know – no interest even in referring.
                    Now are you telling me your troop has enlarged to electrics too??
                    Then you are real scum- come on put your data here demala thug.
                    Control freak hen pecked creep you have got a inferioty complex with time- how many years have you troll- see Amersiri going bonkers with time
                    now you like your stereotype ambude putte go home retire and learn to live
                    – type anymore.
                    What have you achieved on this CT to date politically- zero at the elections and will continue to be zero.
                    School teacher is for women so that the kids grow with them as equals. You keep on saying or my wife all the time-
                    You man to try to teach technically qualified at Uni.
                    I don’t have the heart to screw you any more- you have a troop! I am one and have no fear because i don’t lie or work for salary or have a problem with Sri Lanka folk or Indians anywhere. Take the trouble to reread Gita

                  • 0
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                    Native Vedda
                    Sorry I went on override response . but could not sleep because of a triple. from you. when you see it please feel free to negate all thanks –
                    good night.

                    • 0
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                      Dragos

                      Which orifice are you talking out of?

                      It is very easy to make claims online. It is another thing altogether to substantiate it. I asked for the sources because I am in agreement with what he has said and I wish to use those arguments in debates on this matter, and I can hardly cite an anonymous poster on CT as a credible scientific source. Got it? You probably have no academic background if you can’t understand this – not might fault.

                      OP, I await with eagerness. It seems Kumar David is beyond articulating a response, and is just another now-outdated theoretician trying to justify his existence.

                    • 0
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                      “Bagehot “

                      ” Which orifice are you talking out of? “”It is very easy to make claims online. It is another thing altogether to substantiate it. I asked for the sources because I am in agreement with what he has said and I wish to use those arguments in debates on this matter, and I can hardly cite an anonymous poster on CT as a credible scientific source. Got it? You probably have no academic background if you can’t understand this – not might fault.””

                      `Don’t think you are smart` colony booby. that is a warning!!-
                      message was to N.V (free to negate all thanks –)
                      .
                      About you?? you have no pedigree when it comes to technology go bite the bullet brown bat and live in dark.If you had self respect then you would be on tech newsroom not on CT.
                      Bag_hot Go burn and vanish.

      • 1
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        “So I believe that for the next 10 years or so the choice is either Sampur 1 & 2, or power cuts and slowed economic growth. Take your choice!”

        The question put in an unprofessional way and answered conveniently, not considering the merit of putting up highly toxic plant in a minority residential area with a proven ill will. . Northern Power Company in Chunnakam is accused of digging 100 feet underground and disposed the contaminated dirty oil there. There are no way Tamils’ political representatives or inspectors can go to these plant areas to inspect the construction modalities. Jaffna is a place where people depend for their 100% of drinking water from the well. Colombo government which is refusing investigates simple murders cases in the North had not done anything serious on this. The people who are drinking this water without any other alternatives are going to suffer for long term consequences. That time Colombo government won’t move its butt even an inch to help to these people. The second class citizens of Lankawe, the Tamils in Jaffna are going to pay for this dearly.

        The convenient question and recommendation with a blunt and pointless question for massive double power plants in Sampur is utterly irresponsible. Opposition leader Sampanthan has lodged complains many times to Colombo Government and to the Indian government. Anybody acting like they are not aware of this or ignoring the Tamils’ plight on this matter is not going to bring reconciliation or development for another 10-15 years. The question is “if Lankawe needs additional power supply or no”? The answer might be yes. But I do not know about that. And further, I know certainly it needs not be a dirty coal burning plant located in Sampur.

        The Sampur site was suggested by Old Royal only to put India and Tamils at odd. Other than that there is no strategic advantage in Sampur for a power plant. That time India wanted to build a plant in competition to Nuraichcholai. At the same time India was trying to get the 13A keep going. Sampur was taken from Tamil with the 17 action farm charity employee were murder. That is not investigated by Old royal or New Royals even after many foreign pressures. Tamils were removed from Sampur after the capture and until few months ago they were not allowed to return there as it had become high security area. But that high security land was offered to India to build the plant right after the war. Even India tried to avoid that site. But Old King insisted take it or leave out. India was blamed for not taking up the white elephant Hambantotta harbor as was asked by Old Royals not worrying about if it were commercially viable project for Lankawe. During the Sampur offer time, those were the type of projects Lankawe was offering. By this dirty trick, India was made to feel dumbfound, before they offered the Sampur site. But when eventually India unexpectedly accepted the Sampur offer, Old King withdrew the offer citing so many fake reasons. They even tried to repossess the Trinco Oil Tanks from Indian Company. (It looks like, If the Old King had completely rejected that time, then the developments in Lankawe might not have affected to the learned professor, based on his question and answer.)

        Now, with the big drama of releasing the land to Tamil, New Royal government has restarted the Power plant talk. The plant proposed there is going to use the lowest grade coal and going to pollute the entire area. The Environmentalist who saved the Wilpattu is not active in this. The group opposed and saved the land from American Fruit Company Dole is not being seen in Sampur. The time they were worried about the destruction of wildness. Banana Plants may not be the replacement for wildness but they are good replacement for the lost vegetation. So, why they are not opposing the Sampur plant polluting the Tamils area? Just because these NGOs who are political arms of corrupted Colombo governments, mainly funded by the Governments. They don’t give damn even to what happened to Chunnakam.

        India wanted not just build a power plant in Lankawe. It wanted to start a power sharing with Lankawe. Politically, that is not acceptable to Lankawe. Politics seems to be more important reason to Lankawe government than the health of its citizens and the environment. Who knows what might have happened to the power outages if a proper network had been set up from the time India wanted to do it? A power sharing network is not needed, but a plant in Sampur with low class coal burning needed then only the “power cuts and slowed economic growth will go away? What a highly convoluted question and answer?

        http://www.tamilwin.com/show-RUmtzCRbSWkv1F.html

  • 1
    8

    Right, right. We now know that you know a lot about electricity.

    But grow up, for heaven’s sake. All we need is light and power to run electrical equipment.

    These kind of childish attempts are jokes that do not help us.

    • 6
      0

      Saman,
      It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and have it confirmed.

  • 2
    1

    New technology is very costly, patent rights are very costly.
    The first world developed from coal fired.
    Americans have over 700 bases in the world to protect patent rights and copyrights.
    There is nothing like a free invitation for even a lunch or stay elsewhere.
    Did socialist Lanka get rice from the moon?? Nothing comes for free.
    Électricité de France EDF cost 3 times the estimate on completion even in the west.

  • 2
    2

    KKYW was the chairman of CEB for a vert long period. Why didn’t he made those changes as he was politically powerful figure. Looks like he neglected his duty.

    One has raised about reactive power. Why not the po factor is not monitored and corrected automatically. The technology is so advanced now than two three decades ago. There is no excuse for CEB. Also why CEB has not studied the vulnerable points of the grid and make redundancy for preventing single point of failure. SL look like fools before the international community. All the engineers are chartered engineers it is disgrace. How can i find your report to PM.

    Studing electrical and electronics in early to mid seventies (university of ceylon peradeniya) i know how much of mental pressure/stress we underwent particularly from your lectures/ course works i still vert well remember them.

    • 4
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      Re finding the EE lectures hard, understand that electrical is nearly all math and difficult.

      If it was hard, you could have switched to a BA in Pali/Sanskrit. Do not blame Prof. David.

      • 0
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        I think you misunderstood what i was trying to say. This pressure and stress benefited us to built the knowledge and skill to standout among others. Yes it was hard as a student as we were afraid of being victimized to talk against your lecturers. Nowadays education is a business if too many people fail in the exam lecturer is partly responsible as opposed to seventies. If you you fail an exam you are considered as an idiot. But i still think the education those days have produced quite strong personalities and well subject matter experts.

        • 2
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          There are many who have come out with over 90% in engineering and in the arts too because they listen 100% then go to the reference library. There is a classic case I know at IIT- he was taken to court by a good lecturer (Brahman) for defending equality right of SC/ST buddhist and while the case was on he won the gold medal (he came from disciplined Jesuit school and father was the first Turban Indian to win a gold medal too) It depends how you see things.
          Then he had a long chat with his honest pop took Rs 50k from his retirement fund bought a TATA truck drove it himself and transported coal and in one year bought the second ,then he employed driver and went into construction of stadium, shopping center etc he is a multi millioner.(he never wanted to be a paid servant like his pop who was director of Indian industry but poor)
          His brother a civil engineer was enlisted into the army.
          AT IIT we pay fees but the government subsides it 10 -20 times over.
          They cant fail you in your written paper but sessional work yes so if you want to fight better work better than the best for your sessionals then they never have heart to fail you. I always questioned just once(when they requested) for fun and they never failed me.

    • 2
      0

      Jay,
      Quite true,
      I think many Sri Lankans become engineers for the prestige, not because they like nuts and bolts (or plugs and switches). They want to sit in an a/c office wearing a tie. In other countries engineers ( like my boss when I worked abroad) are prepared to carry their own ladders to get on machinery.
      Sri Lankan egineers can’t fix French locomotives because they are too high-tech.
      Sri Lankan egineers can’t fix Indian locomotives because they are too low-tech.

      • 0
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        well yes and no. Its to do with the education system from primary and discipline.How did lanka produce ANS and Cyril and many more- missionary schools.
        Because of jealousy the forceful takeover by sinhala Buddhist instigated by hamuduruvo.- they need kappan and power while seated idle even to this day.
        It was a bad time Suez Canal closure, Estado Novo and kussi amma hoodwinking the public vote.
        At the rate its going the quality of life will keep going down for majority.

        • 0
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          stop20,
          “.How did lanka produce ANS and Cyril and many more- missionary schools.”
          Yes. I suppose you are talking about ANS Kulasinghe and Cyril wimalasurenra. It was St. Aloysius’ Galle which produced Cyril Ponnamperuma. It was taken over and ruined.
          Nowadays Govt. schools produce people who want to sit idling behind desks, and also people who want to idle in 3-wheelers.

          • 0
            0

            Old Codger,
            “”It was taken over and ruined.”
            Like the north india where mugal invaders broke everything, built mosques with same stone and installed Sharia law untill around 1818 when EIC took whole of India. South Africa is now being ruined after Mandela took the most sensible decision unlike Mugabe- suddha ta gahmu) They bring down the quality of life of citizens.
            Most middle class there want to migrate just to educate their kids and don’t come back to the same system that drove them away in the first place.
            When the buddhist monks took over schools they had no understanding of what it is to be strict like a loving father so they canned the kids that they ran away. This is true of convents too.
            Even at India while they curse the Britsh Raj they all run too missionary schools.
            Fortunately at the big Indian Institutes seniors tell say don’t let political parties come to campus and ruin our lives. That was never the case so JVP insurrection and Tamil boys to terror- after standardisation.
            Good old days if we had a fight at school our parents gave us a good spanking and that was frightening-no food)

  • 1
    1

    We must appreciate Prof KD’s efforts to make us aware of technical matters so that we can form educated opinions on matters of such importance for the country. Public opinion is the greatest weapon for social changes and the antidote against corruption of public officials. They use jargon and cover ups to hoodwink us all the time. In the lack of expert knowledge on such matters we depend on others to form our own opinion, which is not a good thing.

    This site sometimes carries articles that are harmful. An example is articles running down certain communities based on ethnicity and religion. In the light of those, KD’s article is at least not harmful though to some it may be too difficult to understand.

    Please keep it up Prof KD.

    • 0
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      Richard Branson made his first million by offering a sandwich to the bloke who sang tubular bells – a beautiful song.
      With this he started short haul Virgin Airlines which never kept its flight schedule and the whole of Europe were furious. He found a niche at Brussels Sabena Airlines and rode them bottom up made it redundant and today he plans to send folk to space- he has been knighted too.

  • 2
    0

    Thank You Professor for making it all seem so easy. Alas, it is not, but underlying all what you wrote are the simple disciplines of planning and maintenance. These are things that we Sri Lankans do not do well. With few exceptions, WE do not plan. AND ditto, We do not maintain. Because we do not plan much is ‘stop-gap’ and often the ‘cheapest option’. Once, something is installed/built, we do not properly maintain. Once this little weakness is sorted out, we will do better.

    It is essential that as we build our cities, the modern high rise buildings and facilities mill need 24hr power. It would be no fun to be stuck on the 20th floor, with no air-conditioning, and worse no water to drink or wash with. Then the brown-stuff will really hit the fan.

    Finally, to read a professor apologising for being didactic was like listening to a lion apologising for being a carnivore.

  • 0
    0

    Thank you prof. KD – the author of “Single Issue” common candidate,
    that led to the 8th Jany. CHANGE.

    Regarding the disaster predicted by end of a decade with Coal power, to
    the Plantations in the Central Province, with such power generation at
    either sides of the Island, one wonders why Tidal wave Power should not
    be considered, say in the very North? Over to Hon.CV. With the twinning of Jaffna with a UK borough, this may be a venture to consider. Wikipedia says:

    “Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy obtained from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity.

    Although not yet widely used, tidal power has potential for future electricity generation. Tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power. Among sources of renewable energy, tidal power has traditionally suffered from relatively high cost and limited availability of sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges or flow velocities, thus constricting its total availability. However, many recent[when? clarification needed] technological developments and improvements, both in design (e.g. dynamic tidal power, tidal lagoons) and turbine technology (e.g. new axial turbines, cross flow turbines), indicate that the total availability of tidal power may be much higher than previously assumed, and that economic and environmental costs may be brought down to competitive levels.

    Historically, tide mills have been used both in Europe and on the Atlantic coast of North America. The incoming water was contained in large storage ponds, and as the tide went out, it turned waterwheels that used the mechanical power it produced to mill grain.[1] The earliest occurrences date from the Middle Ages, or even from Roman times.[2][3] It was only in the 19th century that the process of using falling water and spinning turbines to create electricity was introduced in the U.S. and Europe.[4]

    The world’s first large-scale tidal power plant is the Rance Tidal Power Station in France, which became operational in 1966. It was the largest tidal power station in terms of power output, before Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station surpassed it. Total harvestable energy from tidal areas close to the coast is estimated to be around 1 terawatt worldwide.[5]”

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    Our Former Lecturer. Now too old with his very old views has written on the failure and recommending More Dirty Coal
    He was one time Member of the CEB worked as a Board.Member

    Latter LEFT the country to greener pastures. Even though he got free education in Sri Lanka

    It is due to people like this the CEB planners get wrong ideas
    They are not aware of the latest happening in the world
    India and China are now leading in the use of renewable with very attractive low price for generation with Renewable and they are moving away from Coal like many countries.

    Old timers still think the dirty coal is the best not knowing the total damage it will cause for the future generation

    They will be not there to see the damage it will cause to the younger generation.

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      firstly free education has no value- you end up like gass gembo.

      UNITED NATIONS: India and China led developing countries in investments made in renewable energy in 2015, when for the first time commitments in solar, wind and other renewables capacity by emerging economies surpassed those by wealthy nations, a UN-backed report has said.-China, India and Brazil committed a total of USD 156 billion in new renewables capacity last year, up 19 per cent on 2014. Mar 26, 2016, 02.28PM IST

      But the game plan here in the west has changed to nuclear- back to basics
      The reason being its not economical and practical. Brazil was using soya bean.
      What do you want to go nuclear as Gota wants to start war- better he shoot himself
      Rather than look for gundas to play marbles try pocket billiards or book cricket.

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      Gunda/Kanaga Gnana

      Please make up your mind.

      Which of the two names do you prefer to identify yourself?

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      I am not sure whether you know China is still building coal power stations. They are also replacing their old inefficient dirty power stations. The coal power station which was build by Chinese was a refurbished one and our fools agreed as they offered very big commissions to several politicians. Now we are experiencing the consequences.

      I know several companies promotes various renewable energy options also they give lot of rebates but when we buy we have to evaluate the long term sustainability, not only the operations but the long binding contracts with the selected manufactures. All the renewables have their own issues. For example wind power is generation noise pollution causing health issues. Being a small country the magnitude of noise pollution needs to be studied in depth. Sri Lanka is a cloudy country, therefore efficiency. The conversion of solar energy to electricity is less than 5% and you need very big solar farms to generate several hundreds of MWs.

      However, it is better to have a mix, coal power stations are still cheap and cater for any demands.

      Dr AKD is a excellent theoretician but I don’t know whether he has operational and maintenance experience. As you said he was in the CEB board and one must ask what was his contribution then.

      He has not touched the root cause analysis but provided theoretical coverage. Synchronization of generators nowadays is easy, most of the control systems are software driven, so as power factor corrections.

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    This one of the latest study results on Levelized Energy Cost analysis done in Nov 2015. It clearly indicates that the Renewables are the least cost option with good variable gas operated Thermal Power plants. Once the gas terminals are installed it can be used for Cooking as well as transport and other industrial heating.
    Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (“LCOE”)
    https://www.lazard.com/media/2390/lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis-90.pdf

    INSIGHTS
    Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis 9.0
    NOV 17 2015
    The cost of generating electricity from all forms of renewable energy continues to decline, according to the latest Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE 9.0) – Lazard’s annual study comparing the cost of generating energy from conventional and alternative technologies.
    Highlights from the study include:
    Despite recent sharp declines in the market price of natural gas, utility-scale solar and wind power remain cost-competitive complements to traditional generation technologies, even without subsidies.
    The median average cost of generating electricity from utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) technology has declined about 25% from one year ago.
    Rooftop solar PV technology is still not cost competitive without significant subsidies, primarily due to higher installation costs. However, the levelized cost of rooftop solar PV is expected to decline in coming years, primarily as a result of more efficient installation techniques, lower costs of capital and improved supply chains.
    Even though alternative energy is increasingly cost-competitive and storage technology holds great promise, alternative energy systems alone will not be capable of meeting the baseload generation needs of a developed economy for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the optimal solution for many regions of the world is to use complementary traditional and alternative energy resources in a diversified generation fleet. — https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis-90/

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      Lazard investment banking- Banksters they are all assumptions according to them and confidential.

      Whats is gunda commission to promote?

      Japan is confidently rebuilding more nuclear reactors which are prone to tsunami.

      When we travel to Holland Denmark etc its an eye sore of wind farms.

      There is clean coal energy like the coal we use for barbecue.
      Chinese and Indians don’t have it. if you had been to China 100 days before the Olympics you would have seen Expo China Shanghai with even the biodegradable office complexes by the Swiss.

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        Once upon a time there was a lady who liked to show off her wealth and expensive possession, as happens to ladies who begin poor but end up being dirty rich.

        One day she tells her friends at a party. “See Aney, what happened yesterday. A Garandiya found its way inside the house and it was coiled up on our 65 in smart TV. When we tried to chase it away it crawled over our Bose surround sound bass speaker, then went inside the 6 ft tall pure marble statue that I got from China Aney.

        After that we managed to chase it away and it climbed the new barbecue stand we have on our poolside.

        Then I think it went to Denmark and UK and flew South to the Fukushima Dai Ichi plant in Japan, which had a core melt down. Now the Garandiya is radioactive.

    • 4
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      Gunda/Kanaga Gnana

      Please make up your mind.

      Which of the two names you prefer to identify yourself?

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    We are unable to understand Prof’s statements which contradicts from time to time
    Business Plans To Encourage Solar Electricity
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/business-plans-to-encourage-solar-electricity/
    He encourages to go Solar.

    “Sri Lanka-China to sign two MOUs for Norochcholai Coal Power Project
    The Ministry of Power and Energy has taken steps to Sign two Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between the China and Sri Lanka to provide technical co-operation for the stable, efficient functioning of the Norochcholai Coal Power Project of 3×300 MW.
    This MOU is for the technical co-operation with a broad framework for both Governments to provide technical cooperation including technical assistance and facilitation for the stable, reliable, efficient and effective operation of all three plants of the project of 3x300MW free from any future technical failures.
    The Embassy of People’s Republic of China has informed that the first MOU between two Governments could be signed during the forthcoming state visit of the President of People’s Republic of China to Sri Lanka in the presence of two Heads of States and the second MOU to be signed between CEB and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC).”
    In spite of this the plant keeps failing and takes more than 3 days to restart after a total failure.
    Norochcholai is a Lemon Junk it! Sell it for scrap!
    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=97056
    “Junk the wretched thing, sell it for scrap, collect insurance, get the Chinese Government to write off the loan; in the long run this will be cheaper and less annoying than pottering around with this Lemon in the hope that it may come right one day… the failures are endemic and betoken [of] defective manufacturing, poor quality materials and probably dumping on one sucker garbage that could not be passed off on some other sucker.”
    If nothing else, the Norochcholai Power Station debacle stands as a cautionary tale that if governments and power companies come touting deals for coal plants that seem too good to be true, they probably are.
    Already the FGD equipment of these plants are repeatedly failing causing environmental concern. Non purchase of the fly ash by the cement manufacturers is allowing collection of heaps of this ash without proper liquidation and storing. To avoid Coal shortage and avoid the difficulty in downloading during the heavy weather time, with Irregular supply of Coal and late deliveries all have resulted heaping of large quantity of Coal as hills instead of nicely packed and watered storage as agreed in the EIA report. Present Coal storage is throwing Coal dust to the surroundings. These were reported by the Sampur people who visited Norochcholai recently.
    We cannot expect anything better from the low cost low efficient Indian Sampur Coal plant which is now being recommended by Prof.
    Please see how much of errors are in this EIA report for Sampur which we hope prof will take the time read.
    http://ejustice.lk/EIA/eia/sampoor/Trincomalee%20EIA%20English%20Volume-I.pdf
    http://ejustice.lk/EIA/eia/sampoor/Trincomalee%20EIA%20English%20Volume-II.pdf

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    I really am tired of trying to reply to people with little knowledge or an ideological agenda who think.

    a) Nearly 100% of Lanka’s electricity needs of say of the next 25 years can be provided by renewables (solar, wind, tidal, mini-hydro, biomass, roof-top solar, waste recycling etc). THE ENERGY IS SIMPLY NOT THERE. I would be surprised if all together it reaches 15 to 20% within a generation. Instead of talking so much hot air, these people should sit down, analyse the empirical data, and do the maths.

    b) People who are clueless about the difference between power and energy (MW and GWh) and its significance in system planning.

    c) People who don’t know that China is still installing about 2000 MW of new coal fired plant each fortnight – now reduced after the economic slow down. This is not to deny the giant strides that it is making with wind and solar. Some entertaining readers seem to be unaware that China’s land mass is slightly larger than Lanka’s, eh?

    d) People who don’t know that a few northern European countries that are prepared to pay a high price for wind power, (i) have the necessary wind regimes and terrain, (b) are prepared to pay several times our tariffs.

    Many commentators see an imperialist plot behind every decision; imagine that the whole CEB is in cahoots with the devil to undercut green energy; and that every mature power systems planner and commentators is an unmitigated idiot. The time and effort of drafting a long and detailed answer will in any case have little influence on people who are convinced of such things.

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      Yes even Denmark which is the highest producer of wind power in the world still produces only 30% from wind and pays huge premium subsidies. We have no chance of EVER approaching this level.

      Germany which has 30% wind power charges the highest power prices in the EU – 30 to 40 Euros per MWh wholesale.

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    1

    Sorry that your efforts have been appreciated by only a few. I can understand questions being asked. But when an author is subjected to insults then that is the limit.

    I thought of submitting some articles of my own but have now given up that idea after seeing the comments here.

    I do not agree with some of your ideas but that does not mean that I you deserve being insulted.

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      Yes, too many CT readers can see through David objective of trying to big note himself rather than addressing a national problem.

      There is no fool like an educated fool, as the saying goes.

      • 2
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        Game over,
        “There is no fool like an educated fool, as the saying goes.”
        Apparently you know something that a Professor of Electrical Engineering doesn’t know. Come on, tell us simple souls what it is?

  • 0
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    Even DEnmark that uses the largest amount of wind power in the world produces only 30% of its needs from the wind. WE CAN NEVER HOPE TO COME ANYWHERE NEAR THIS LEVEL.

    Germany produces 28% renewables. German consumers pay a 22% surcharge on their bills for renewables and pay the highest tariff in the EU.

  • 0
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    All the power comes out of the barrel of a gun

  • 0
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    The last blackout occured in 2009. The rot started with norochcholai. Beggars dont choose.

    The best that the CEB could do was to have new contracts for the retired plants. May be they were too scary. As a result there is no generation in southern. there is an unwritten law that no plant shall be there within 100 km from madamulana gardens.

    While people are in the dark, some of the renewable chaps are riding helicopters and holidaying in hawai. The unit price of these clean energy is close to the dirty thermal price.

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    If the increase in power generation went into increased industrial production, there is a case for a ‘short-term’ sacrifice.
    But 10-15 years of Sampur I & II will mean not just no coal power in Sampur after that, but also no Sampur after that.

    Increased electricity generation has thus far encouraged wasteful and even parasitic consumption in the cities.
    Our notion of economic development needs some serious rethinking.

    The MR regime had no plan for a national economy and the MS-RW regime seems to have even less.

    • 0
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      SJ,
      “Increased electricity generation has thus far encouraged wasteful and even parasitic consumption in the cities. Our notion of economic development needs some serious rethinking.”

      You are right. The answer is to put heavy taxes on heavy electricity- consuming items such as air conditioners. These are mostly improperly installed anyway. I have seen one in Main Street which seems to cool the pavement outside! I have seen others installed in metal-roofed buildings with no insulation.
      Our idiots run to purchase an a/c in hot weather instead of designing buildings to cope with local weather as in the past. All these high-rises and glass facades are energy-gobbling monsters which will work in the West but not here.

  • 0
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    Bag_Hot,

    “Whether I like it or not is immaterial. What I am more interested in is a scientific explanation as to WHY you think so.”

    “While I agree with you completely, it would be more helpful””

    Industrial espionage?? Copy and mint money??
    Intimidate and make money like the War Heros??

    HYDROCELE…???

    QED.

    • 0
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      Can I have some of whatever it is you are smoking?

      • 0
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        Ha ha Pants on fire !! common syndrome on internet louts.
        Check the Buddha Ministry that has a stock and grows it even at Tasmania.

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