History Of Electricity in Sri Lanka


The very first city to be lit with electricity was Bristol in England and it took place on 26th June 1881. In 1882, Ceylon, which was a colony of Britain, was able to witness electricity from the ship SS Helios which sailed into Colombo harbor. In 1890, the first electric bulb was lit with electricity in Ceylon, at the Billiard room in Bristol Hotel, Colombo Fort with the power generated by a diesel generator. There is proof that electricity was later on used around the island in plantation estates owned and maintained by the British.

In 1895, M/S Boustead Bros. made Sri Lanka's first public electricity supply available in Colombo.  Colombo Electric Tram Ways and Lighting Company and Kandy Lighting Company met electrical needs in their own spheres in the first decade of 20th century. In 1918, Engineer D. J. Wimalasurendra, who late became the pioneer of electricity in Sri Lanka identified the hydro-power potential in the central hills of Sri Lanka through research.

1926 a separate department for electricity was established under the Deputy Director of Public Works Department and in order to meet the expanding demand, the government decided to set up a Thermal Power Station in 1928 and it was named after Sir Herbert Stanley.

In 1935, a two tier tariff system was introduced and in the same year, Electricity Board of Ceylon was established under the Electricity Board Ordinance No. 35 of 1935. But the board that commenced functioning from March 01st 1936 was dissolved in May 1937, and all its responsibilities, functions, commitments were transferred to Department of Government Electrical Undertakings.

In 1950, Laxapana Power Station was commissioned and this was followed by a myriad of electricity projects.

On 01st November 1969, Ceylon Electricity Board was established under Parliament Act No. 17 of 1969.

Engineer D. J. Wimalasurendra

Engineer D. J. Wimalasurendra is the father of hydro power in Sri Lanka.

D. J. Wimalasurendra was born on 17th September 1874. He studied at Ananda College, Colombo and won awards for proficiency in all subjects. While in school, he passed the London Matriculation Examination and became a student of prestigious who was awarded with D. B. Jayatilake Memorial Award.

He who joined the Government Factory as a trainee engineer, joined the engineering section of the Colombo Technical College and obtained his first degree in Civil Engineering, becoming the first Sri Lankan to have passed it. After he gained higher education from India, D. J. Wimalasurendra was appointed as a Senior Engineer in Public Works Department. As a District Engineer, he rendered a commendable service to the areas Diyatalawa, Galle, Udupussellawa and Kandy. Later, he was appointed as the Chief Engineer of Public Works Department and once appointed to the post of Deputy Director, he designed Kolonnawa Power Distribution System.

D. J. Wimalasurendra planned the Aberdeen Laxapana hydropower scheme, but the then British rule was a hindrance to make that dream a reality. In 1931, after contesting and winning the State Council election, D. J. Wimalasurendra paved way for the implementation of Laxapana hydropower Project. As a result, in 1950, ‘Laxapana Hydropower Plant’, the first hydro-power plant in Sri Lanka was started with a capacity of 25MW. During the renovations of Ruwanweli Seya, Wimalasurendra designed the ‘koth kerella’, the upper most part of the stupa. In order to inspire the west with the Buddhist philosophy, he has translated many Buddhist books into German language. D. J. Wimalasurendra, who has rendered a creditable service to his motherland, race, and religion, passed away on August 10, 1953. In order to honour his incomparable service, the hydropower station at Norton Bridge was named after him as ‘D.J. Wimalasurendra Hydropower Station’.

D.J. Wimalasurendra memorial day falls on 17th September every year.


Lakvijaya Power Plant Deatails

Pic. : Front View of LVPP

Lakvijaya Power Plant is located near the Panaiyadi Village. The closest city of Puttalam is approximately 12 km from Lakvijaya Power Station. It is Sri Lanka First coal fired power station. It was planned to operate as a Base Load plant.

The installed capacity of the Power Plant (Hereafter called LVPP) is 900 MW. Plant is connected to the national grid from the Power station Gas insulated Substation. Two double circuit 220 KV transmission lines from the GIS is connected to New Chilaw GSS and New Anuradhapura GSS.


1.0 History of the Power Station

The initial feasibility study for the power plant was done in 1998. The area is of mixed cultural community including both Roman Catholics and Muslims. Main livelihood of the community is Fishing and Farming. Phase 1 of the power plant started construction in 2006 May.  Unit 1 began its commercial operation in 2011. Phase 2 of the power station completed in 2014. Both Unit 2 and Unit 3 started operating commercially in April and October respectively.

Generation Summary LVPP- Net Energy sent out to the grid. (GWh)


Unit 01

Unit 02

Unit 03

































The project attracted a huge amount of attention from the whole country as it was the first coal power station in Sri Lanka. Coal power, although had been in use in other countries, was a new topic for Sri Lankan Media and Politicians. There were many rumors of the negative impacts of coal power plants and this caused masses to protest against this project.

In the end these incidents only delayed the construction of the largest power station in Sri Lanka causing billions of loss to the country due to Purchase of private power at a higher cost than coal power.



Lakvijaya Power Station uses bituminous coal as the main fuel. Bituminous coal or black coal is a relatively soft coal containing a tarlike substance called bitumen. It is of higher quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than anthracite. Formation is usually the result of high pressure being exerted on lignite. Its coloration can be black or sometimes dark brown.

Bituminous coal contains 77-87 % carbon, whereas anthracite coal contains more than 87% carbon. However bituminous coal is more abundant than anthracite coal.


Pic .  : Stages of coal formation

Bituminous coal is purchased by Lanka Coal Company through a Finance Ministry approved Procurement Procedure. The usual countries from which coal is imported from are Indonesia, Russia or South Africa.

Coal is burned inside a boiler generating heat energy which is used to produce steam of 538 oC and 16.7 MPa from the water tubes around the furnace. Steam will giveaway its energy to the blades of Steam turbines causing the rotor to move at 3000 rpm. The 20kV generator connected to the turbine rotor will produce Electrical Energy 300 MW. Electrical Energy is then transmitted to the national grid via two 220 kV double circuit lines.

Pic : Steam Cycle


Pic. : Turbine and Generator component


Pic. : jetty