In 2021, Sri Lanka's overall electricity consumption was largely fueled by fossil energy, with 10.19 TWh coming from these sources such as coal, which alone produced 4.23 TWh. Low-carbon energy sources provided a smaller percentage of power, contributing 6.17 TWh, with hydropower accounting for the majority of this at 5 TWh. These numbers indicate a heavier reliance on fossil fuels compared to the global average electricity consumption per person of 410 watts. This imbalance could potentially lead to harmful environmental impacts including increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the current low level of electricity generation may limit the country's ability to meet growing energy needs and contribute to energy insecurity.
To increase the low-carbon electricity generation, Sri Lanka could learn from the success of other countries in utilizing a variety of clean energy sources. Like India, with its 119 TWh of solar energy and 91 TWh of wind energy, Sri Lanka, with its tropical climate and coastal winds, could potentially expand its wind and solar power sectors. Furthermore, Brazil's contribution of 94 TWh of wind energy points to the significant potential of this resource, which Sri Lanka, with its own windy coasts, could harness. Nuclear energy could also be a viable option for Sri Lanka, as demonstrated by the large amounts of electricity generated through this method in countries like the United States (776 TWh) and France (319 TWh).
Examining the history of low-carbon electricity in Sri Lanka, it is clear that hydropower has played a significant role. Dating back to the early 1980s, there has been a gradual yet noticeable increase in hydropower generation. For instance, there was a surge in the early 2000s, with a particularly substantial boost in 2013 of 3.6 TWh. However, the journey of hydropower has not been without its ups and downs. There have been periods of decline, as seen in the late 1990s and the mid-2010s. These fluctuations underline the need for diversifying the country's low-carbon energy sources to create a more stable and sustainable power supply.