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Monday, August 26th, 2013
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Power Summit '13

Finance Minister Shankar Koirala speaks at the opening ceremony of the Power Summit '13. Photo: Bhrikuti Rai

The Power Summit ‘13 organised by the Independent Power Producers’ Association of Nepal kicked off today in Kathmandu, with private developers, policy-makers, and investors attending discussions on Nepal’s hydropower industry.

Inaugurating the programme, President Ram Baran Yadav said that energy should be ever-present in Nepal’s economic agenda and that widespread poverty and social inequity form the context in which hydropower projects will operate in Nepal.

“Every year we have thousands of engineering graduates, we produce thousands of kilos of cement, yet consumption of fossil fuel is eating away at our foreign currency reserve,” said President Yadav, urging project developers to keep the ordinary citizen at the centre of all discussions on hydropower.

Norwegian Ambassador Alf Ramslien, Chinese Ambassador Wu Chuntai, and Indian Deputy Chief of Missions Jaydeep Mazumdar all spoke positively of Nepal’s potential and said their respective countries were willing to help Nepal.

In its fifth edition, this year’s programme focused on what IPPAN termed as ‘four pillars of hydropower sector: domestic projects, large export projects, electricity market, and transmission lines.

Energy Minister Umakant Jha and Finance Minister Shankar Koirala said the government was willing to explore ways to expedite hydroelectric projects in Nepal, including cross-border power trade, reservoir type projects, and independent design-operate-transfer management models.

Discussions on technical aspects of domestic projects on Monday afternoon revealed that up to 300,000 new consumers of electricity were added each year. Because of the large deficit between power demand and supply, Nepalis spent Rs 20 billion each year on diesel generators.

In the evening session on politics and hydropower, Pradeep Nepal of UML emphasised domestic demand must be met before talking about export, Ram Sharan Mahat of NC said the sale of surplus electricity is necessary to bridge Nepal’s trade deficit, and Ratneswor Lal Kayastha of MJF said no government could ignore hydropower.

In response, private power developers voiced concern that there was a political disconnect between possibilities and politics of hydropower, that political parties were not consistent about private companies’ obligations at the local level, and that the absence of local government created hassles for every hydropower developer.

Tuesday’s discussions will focus on financing export and domestic projects, and explore steps to make Nepal a ‘hyrdo-powered’ country. A discussion with experts and politicians on hastening the pace of hydropower development in the evening will bring the two-day summit to a finish.

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