From Wasantha Perera
Secretary / Ministry of Power
What and why a “National Energy Day”?
Energy is the creator of a modern society. Our life revolves around the continuous supply of energy made possible by the advanced infrastructure of our cities. The energy that is supplied to us through our electrical outlets, the flow of fuel to the surrounding vehicles, and the enormous amount of energy that is provided through our power grid to power our industries is critical to our daily wellbeing.
The increase in the efficiency of the country’s energy sector marks not only the success of our economic management, but also the safeguarding of our future habitability and well-being. This energy management mission is no easy task. It requires a joint effort from every single member of our society. A common mission to save energy opens up enormous possibilities and stimulates the creativity of our SMEs.
We celebrate National Energy Day to remember this mission and empower the next generation to be a part of it. Today the day is all about energy education, energy awareness and energy innovations. It is dedicated to the experts who teach the nation how to save energy and help them understand its importance. What is important is that today is the day when we thank us for the endless possibilities the energy system offers us and recognize how we can maintain it.
What is energy How energy dependent are we?
For a long time, scientists and engineers thought that mechanical energy and thermal energy were two different types of energy that could not be mixed together. Mechanical energy is the energy in moving objects and the energy needed to move and lift things. Thermal energy is the energy needed to generate heat. At the end of the 17th century, scientists found that thermal energy can actually be converted into mechanical energy and vice versa.
Energy comes in so many different forms. We use energy to perform motor skills; to throw, to raise heat and to radiate light. Heat, light, sound and electricity are also forms of energy and energy can be converted from one form to another. A generator can be used to convert heat into mechanical energy and mechanical energy into electrical energy. With solar cells, light energy can be converted into electricity. As we all know, electrical energy is converted into light by a light bulb. This transformation created a new technology called energy technology. Today everyone converts all primary energy sources into electricity, transports it to consumption and converts it back into the required form of energy.
The world’s energy needs are met by various resources that contain energy. Fossil fuels such as oil and coal are the most important primary energy sources in the world. Nevertheless, firewood and system components cover a considerable part of the global energy demand. Nuclear energy, which is produced by nuclear reactions of radioactive substances such as uranium and plutonium in our soil, is also a primary energy source in the world. In hydropower plants, hydropower is used in elevated water to generate electricity. The light energy in direct sunlight and the wind, which is caused by the different warming of the atmosphere by solar energy, provide us with very valuable sources of energy. Energy in ocean currents is also an important modern source of energy that is tapped by underwater generators. All of these are critical energy sources that provide energy around the world.
In Sri Lanka, our primary energy supply comes from fossil fuels (53%), solar energy (13%), wind and water power (34%) and biomass. 28% of this primary energy supply is converted into electricity. Our industries use 26% of the country’s energy. The private and commercial sectors consume 41% and 33% from the transport sector. All energy for the transport sector is supplied exclusively from fossil fuels.
A brief blackout in our power grid can bring our life to a standstill, which shows the energy dependency of our daily life. This also applies to our industries and trading activities. The lifeblood of the modern economy is its energy supply. That is why the reliability, stability and sustainability of our energy supply are just as important as their affordability.
Our nation’s energy prospects are currently in a transition phase. It is important that we make this transition to reduce our carbon footprint and increase our energy security. This can be achieved through a plan determined by a strategic policy and our combined efforts.
National energy policy and its goals
Sri Lanka’s ‘National Energy Policy’ is a well thought out strategy that ensures convenient and affordable energy services for the equitable development of Sri Lanka through a clean, safe, sustainable, reliable and economically viable energy supply. This guideline is formulated in accordance with Sri Lanka’s future goals, current global energy trends and Goal 7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This policy will have an impact on a wide range of social, economic and environmental areas and pave the way for Sri Lanka’s vision of achieving carbon neutrality and the complete transition of all energy value chains by 2050.
Energy is said to be in a trilemma. Energy equity, energy sustainability and energy reliability are in constant battle with one another. Affordable energy isn’t always clean or reliable. Clean energy is neither cheap nor guaranteed to be reliable. To make the energy supply system reliable, we are forced to invest heavily in providing energy through systems that are neither cheap nor clean. We need to strike a balance between these three competing goals: equity, sustainability and reliability. Thousands of researchers in the energy sector and engineering research centers around the world strive to find innovative technologies to strike the right balance between equity, sustainability and reliability of energy. Every energy policy in the world tries to find its own balance point. Our energy policy is no different and tries to reconcile these three goals through various strategies, such as:
It takes enormous efforts to provide affordable and accessible energy while ensuring high reliability. The Sustainable Development Goals 2015 clearly recognize this trilemma and have dedicated the seventh goal to the topic of “Securing access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all”. Positioning Sri Lanka in the global forum as an example of a country with a green energy supply has the highest priority in our world order, which is very important to us.
Our electricity sector plays a crucial role as an energy streamliner and catalyst. In modern Sri Lanka, all forms of energy are expected to be converted into electricity and delivered until they are consumed. This is not as easy as any other country due to our massive 34% biomass footprint.
The government’s manifesto “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor” impressively captured the breadth of this concept and stated that “Sri Lanka ranks high among the countries with a high share of renewable energies, with a strong commitment to this important attribute to obtain”. the economic resilience of the country in a world of declining energy security. “As this global pandemic and its consequences have demonstrated, it is now more evident than ever that our energy security, energy reliability and energy sustainability determine our world.
What responsibility do we have to use energy sparingly
The real question is how can we as a nation achieve energy efficiency and sustainability.
Our ownership and role in this area is similar to our function within a democracy. Sri Lanka’s energy supply can only be affordable, reliable and sustainable if everyone strives for it together.
We can divide our energy consumption into four economic sectors: residential, commercial, transport and industrial. We rely on energy to light, heat or cool buildings, move vehicles and freight, and manufacture products. It is forecast that Sri Lanka’s energy demand will increase by 5-6% annually. It is the responsibility of every citizen to minimize waste of energy and to use energy as sparingly as possible. While my colleagues and various energy professionals devote themselves to improving these systems, it is also the responsibility of each individual energy consumer to contribute to this common mission by ensuring that energy is used carefully and sparingly in everyday life.
National Day is a perfect time to reflect on our values and appreciate how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects that to change.
The leader sets the sails “
John Maxwell Let’s set sail and guide this journey.