Sri Lanka’s largest power plant has undergone an upgrade in order to avoid further breakdowns, the chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has said.

The 300 MW first phase of the coal-fired Lakvijaya plant (pictured) in Norocholai came online in 2011, and further construction work is underway. Once completed, the plant is expected to produce 900 MW.

Since coming online the plant has had several reported breakdowns including a fire, a leak, a trip and an instance where generation exceeded design levels, causing a shutdown. The most recent shutdown came in March when an explosion in a stepdown transformer caused an island-wide power outage.  

Sri Lanka’s deputy minister for power and renewable energy, Ajith Perera, said at the time that the plant had been built with “outdated” technologies and substandard materials.

He added that the nation plans to build three new coal-fired power plants as the Norocholai plant is not fit for purpose. The planned plants include a 500 MW plant with Indian funding and two with Japanese support, at 600 MW and 1200 MW.  

“We will be calling for tenders in the next three months for the Indian-funded plant,” he said.  

This week Anura Wijayapala, the CEB’s chairman, was quoted as saying that “we have taken measures to improve generation at the Norocholai coal power station” and “we hope we can control the system better now.”

Wijayapala said the CEB and engineers from an unnamed Chinese company had fine-tuned the plant’s operating parameters to make it less sensitive to the frequency changes that had led to blackouts.