The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka together with the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka and the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences hosted an expert panel discussion on 21 January, 2020 under the title ‘A New Decade: Investing in Clean Energy in Sri Lanka – Drivers and Barriers’. The conference was held at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka. This conference brought together several key actors, stakeholders and experts from the Sri Lankan clean energy sector as well as a delegation from Norway for the panel discussion.
Sri Lanka is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement and shares the vision and commitment to achieving carbon neutral status by 2050. The sustainable way of progressing towards achieving this commitment is through investing in clean energy technologies to tackle future energy demands while also reducing the emissions. Collaborations between governments, private sector, researchers and higher education institutions are therefore crucial for such endeavour. In this regard, Norway and Sri Lanka have partnered and are laying greater emphasis on collaborating on clean energy technologies. This partnership in research, development and investments in clean energy between Norway and Sri Lanka resulted in the establishment of a clean energy consortium in 2018 bringing together private enterprises, academics and researchers from both countries. This was made possible with the financial assistance from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka. The consortium builds linkages between research and industry between both countries and encourages advancement, investments, partnerships and joint ventures towards low carbon solutions with an increased focus on solar energy generation. The conference was part of this initiative.
The expert panellists consisted of Sturle H. Pedersen, Chairman of Norwegian clean energy company Greenstat Hydrogen Asia, Nalin de Silva, Senior Professor from the University of Colombo, Asanka S. Rodrigo, Director General of Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, Senarathna Banda, Deputy General Manager of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Renewable Energy Development Division, S. Renganathan, CEO and Managing Director of Commercial Bank of Sri Lanka, and Kamal Dorabawila, Principal Investment Officer of International Finance Corporation (IFC). The session was moderated by Prof. Rohini M. de Silva from the University of Colombo.
Prior to the panel discussion the welcome address was delivered by the Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, HE Trine Joranli Eskedal where she highlighted the need for greater collaboration in research, development and investment on clean energy. This was followed by Prof. Kathirgamanathan Kandasamy, Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna and Prof. Dhayalan Velauthapillai, head of the research group on Advanced Nano Materials for Clean Energy and Health Applications of Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, who gave a brief overview on the collaborative work being undertaken between the universities in Norway and Sri Lanka. Inge Vikesdal, CEO Current Solar AS Norway, detailed their engagement in putting up the pilot floating solar plant in the University of Jaffna – Kilinochchi premises. Nanthini Nagarajah, a PhD Research Fellow of Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, presented the outline of her study on the drivers and barriers to clean energy transition in Sri Lanka.
The panel discussion was the main segment of the event and dealt with not only the promising potential in Sri Lanka for renewables but also the number of challenges the country faces in moving towards and transitioning to renewables and becoming more efficient users of energy. The panellists responded to questions from the audience in their area of expertise. Approximately sixty participants participated in the event.