Nepal’s strong existing and untapped hydropower potential was a point of discussion among various national and international experts at a recently-held global energy summit.
The second edition of the three-day Nepal Power Investment Summit 2018, held during January 27-29, 2018, saw the participation of renowned personalities from international bodies such as SAARC, BIMSTEC and ASEAN, global leaders and investors, ambassadors, bankers, ministers and businessmen, among various other key delegates from different parts of the world.
A total of 350 delegates from 24 countries including China, Korea, Europe and the United States, around 100 participants representing 30 international companies and around 400 participants from Nepal including policymakers and private sector players took part in the summit.
As part of the summit, various government and industry experts expressed their views on Nepal’s energy sector and its potential.
Inaugurating the summit on January 27, 2018, President Bidya Devi Bhandari called on the global and local investors to tap the untapped hydropower potential of Nepal.
“We need capital and technology for the implementation of large scale hydropower projects and the government will accord top priority to attract foreign investment and technology. The investors will also benefit from the growing demand for electricity in Nepal as well as South Asia,” said the President in her inaugural address.
In this regard, she promised an investor-friendly environment in line with their interests and needs to all the players coming forward.
Highlighting Nepal’s strong energy potential, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri said the country should act fast in implementing the hydropower projects considering the inclination towards renewable energy projects at the global-level.
“In the backdrop where solar power is getting cheaper day by day, hydropower will lose its competitive advantage to solar energy soon. Therefore, Nepal should act fast in developing the hydropower projects,” said Puri in his keynote address.
He went on to say that Nepal should start mega energy projects for both employment generation and economic development and to stay ahead in competition.
“Nepal should immediately start developing large projects to provide energy at competitive rates,” he added.
Though Nepal’s energy policies for foreign investors look promising, the government agencies working in the process need to pace up the rate at which they implement the projects, say the energy industry experts.
“We are the private sector who looks maximized return within short period of time, but here in Nepal we have to invest more than five years doing basic things, getting approvals and clearances,” said a Vietnam-based businessman who participated in the summit.
The experts also lauded the Government of Nepal’s power purchasing policies in USD term, ease in removal of land ceiling for big hydro projects and management of technical human resources as some of the notable developments required for attracting foreign investment.
Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘FDI in Nepal’s Power Sector’ held as part of the summit, various energy industry experts and investors called for innovative ways of financing in the Nepali hydropower sector.
“Since hydropower projects are capital intensive and have longer gestation period, innovative financing solutions like equity financing is the need of time,” says a Nepal-based private industry player.
The panel speakers also pitched for independent regulatory body to check the demand and supply along with fixing energy tariff in the country.
According to the summit organizer, Energy Development Council (EDC), this summit is aimed at creating a platform to ensure one-step business and business expansion in the energy sector while matching the interests of industry players.
The summit was hosted a participant-investor platform allowing participants to meet investors for a debt financing of around
USD 5-20 billion for various power projects including solar, wind and hydro energy.
Speaking on the occasion, EDC Chairperson Sujit Acharya highlighted that Nepal holds a 40,000MW electricity generation potential over the next 10 years.
“The resources needed for harnessing hydropower to that level could be available from the international financing institutions under Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing modality,” he added.