Fueling a way forward for small and medium enterprises

Providing financial and technical assistance towards the switch to renewable energy technologies

Sri Lanka aims to be a nation more resilient to shocks in the energy sector by 2030.  The objective is to increase the power generation capacity of the country from the existing 4,043 MW to 6,900 MW by 2025 with a significant increase in renewable energy. Around 40% of Sri Lanka’s primary energy requirements are met by biomass energy, which is a significant source of energy for both households and businesses. Being an indigenous source of energy, it contributes to the country’s energy security and provides rural farmers with an extra source of income. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has led to hardships for households and businesses to source the required energy for production. Renewable energy technologies are thus a timely solution to the challenges faced by many small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Building on experiences, best practices, and lessons learned from Phase I, the Biomass Project Phase II – Biomass Energy 2022 is an initiative of the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA) together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka. The project aims to strengthen rural economies, increase forest cover, improve the living standards of rural women, and sustainable industries and SMEs in the country, by increasing the growth of suppliers for clean and modern biomass technology in line with the energy policy.

As a part of the project, a series of training programmes on renewable energy technologies for SMEs and financial institutions will take place in partnership with Standard Charted Bank (SCB). The second of the training programmes for 50 SMEs was held recently in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the programme, Mr Harsha Wickramasinghe, Acting Director General of SLSEA noted, ‘’In the present economic crisis, the hardest hit segment of our business community is undoubtedly the SME sector. The real issue affecting all these small businesses can be traced to the energy supply, either in the transport requirements or in their process energy requirements, which are mainly electricity and fuel for heating applications. Providing indigenous solutions, such as biomass and solar-based energy technologies, will contribute in no small measure to rebuilding our SME sector. In this regard, the support provided by SCB and UNDP could be very useful’’.

Addressing participants at the workshop, Mr Sampath Ranasinghe, Programme Coordinator – Energy and Waste, UNDP in Sri Lanka emphasized that UNDP is committed to supporting SMEs to increase the use of renewable energy technologies through sustainable models for energy production. In the prevailing economic crisis, renewable energy technology is the most cost-effective source of energy which will create new business models and opportunities for SMEs by enabling them to benefit from reduced costs and sustainability enhancements”.

The programme, which focused on entrepreneurs from various industries ranging from tea, spice, hotel, and food and beverage industries, was developed to increase awareness and build the capacity of SMEs on renewable energy technologies in the market.

Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing of Standard Chartered Sri Lanka, Mr Anuk De Silva said, “As a global bank, we are constantly interested in promoting sustainability and green initiatives within our markets and across the globe. Keeping in line with the Group’s agenda on achieving net zero by the year 2050, we are honoured to have partnered with the UNDP to share knowledge and training on Biomass and renewable energies, which is a very timely and relevant need.”

The Biomass Energy 2022 project will increase the use of biomass energy in Sri Lanka for power generation, benefitting local households, farmers, and the national economy. The project will further expand biomass production to agricultural waste and develop collection systems to process 100,000 tons of agricultural waste annually, to be given to industries using biomass as an energy source.

The next training programme for SMEs will be held in October 2022.

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