Ceylon Tobacco Dendro Power Project

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Potential for ‘’’Dendro’’’ power, or generation of electricity from sustainably grown ‘’‘Ginisiriya’’’ (‘’’Gliricidia sepium’’’) in Sri Lanka was researched by the Ministry of Science and Technology from 1999 to 2004. The initiative was reportedly under a European Union grant. Based on the success of the trial plantations the first commercial project was piloted in Walapane by Lanka Transformers Limited (LTL) in 2004 with the help of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC).[1][2][3]

Image 1: Ray Wijewardena (far right) in front of the Walapane Dendro Power plant[2]

Ceylon Tobacco Investment

The media reported figure of the project’s worth was LKR 100 Million. CTC’s contribution was coordinating the supply of ‘’’Ginisiriya’’’ as it was introduced to the tobacco farmers under their Sloping Agriculture Technology (SALT) Project. CTC bought wood from the farmers and resold it to LTL for energy production. Ceylon Electricity Board provided (CEB) a tariff for the electricity used in the process.[3][4]


The project was seen as a failure in evaluation reports. The reasons mentioned were:[5][6][7]

  • inappropriate choice of project site - Walapane was selected because CTC had an unused warehouse there. It was in an area with poor road network which often got affected by landslides. [5] The impact was worse because only 1% of wood was around Walapane, contradictory to the feasibility report submitted by CTC that stated the adjacent areas can provide more than three times of the required wood[6]
  • Grid was often out of service because the connection line to the grid went through a forest land and got damaged often by falling trees and debris[5]
  • Inadequacy of the power tariff provided by the CEB[5]
  • Weak wood supply chain – It was reported that the supply chain had too many middlemen making profits while growers only got a minimal return for their efforts. The farmers received only 1 Rupee for 1kg of wet stock whereas the collectors got around 3 Rupees.[5][6][7] Other reasons mentioned were; difficult terrain posing difficulties for the farmer to bring the feedstock for collection, low price offered, the process of preparing wood (including chopping and drying) being cumbersome, farmers engaged in other activities with better returns.[6]
  • Neighbourhood community being unhappy with the project and refraining from supplying wood – reasons mentioned were “noise, fly ash, problems with the disposal of storm water etc.”[6]

Ranasinghe, conducting a socio-economic evaluation on the project for the Asia Pro-eco Programme concludes that a major reason for failure was contradiction between the CTC feasibility study and the actual implementation.[6]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:


  1. United Nations. Energy Services for Sustainable Development in Rural Areas in Asia and the Pacific: Policy and Practice. Energy Resources Development Series No. 40, New York: United Nations, 2005
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ray Wijewardena Trust. Ray Wijewardene: Bio-energy Promorter, 2011, accessed August 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 S Perera. https://web.archive.org/web/20170807145140/http://archives.dailynews.lk/2004/08/17/bus02.html Rs. 100 m Dendro power plant to boost national grid], 17 August 2004, accessed August 2017
  4. The Island. CTC pioneers in ‘Dendro Electrification’ for rural populace, 28th October 2004, accessed August 2017
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 W Mostert. https://web.archive.org/web/20170825100845/http://mostert.dk/pdf/Development%20of%20Grid-Connected%20Biomass%20Energy%20Projects%20in%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf Development of Grid-Connected Biomass Energy Projects in Sri Lanka Issues and Options], 08th May 2009, accessed August 2017
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 H Ranasinghe. A Socio-economic study on the Dendro Power Project at Kumbalgamuwa, Walapane, undated, accessed August 2017
  7. 7.0 7.1 DFCC Consulting (Pvt) Limited. Private Sector, Small-scale, Grid Connected Renewable Power Generation in Sri Lanka: A review of the experience of the past decade 1996 to 2006, RERED Project, January 2008, accessed August 2017