Marginalisation of Off-grid Energy Sector in Sri Lanka: What Lessons could be learnt?
Renewable energy-based off-grid projects have played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s universal electrification effort. The paper, in this context, unravels two crucial and quite interrelated aspects of decentralised off-grid electrification in the country: a) it critically analyses the off-grid electricity sector development and assesses its contribution to the universal electrification in the country and; b) it examines the current set of challenges associated with the off-grid electrification in the larger context of massive grid expansion. A mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods is employed as tools of analysis. The paper brings out several policy-relevant findings. Strategic policy interventions coupled with targeted policy goals, robust community-centric management structures, well-designed credit systems, and well-structured capacity-building initiatives are identified as key leveraging points for the success of off-grid electrification projects. The techno-economic analysis of an existing micro-hydro project reveals that there exist opportunities for more productive use of existing capacity. Grid interconnection of off-grid energy projects emerges as a major challenge beset with a whole gamut of technical, legal, regulatory, financial, and social conundrums. Interestingly, the intensity of such challenges differs across ownership types.