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Nepal Seeks More Chinese HydroPower Investment

On the heels of the $1.8 billion contract with China Three Gorges Corp. regarding the West Seti Rover hydro project, Nepal’s government has extended an invitation welcoming o more Chinese hydropower companies to invest in projects worth $400 billion.

State-owned power company China Datang Corporation has expressed interest in investing in Nepal’s hydropower industry. Nepal is experiencing critical power shortages; out of the 20000-mw-potential capacity of water resources, the country only has a generating capacity of 650 mw.

At the Boao Forum in Hainan province, Binod K. Chaudhary, member of Nepal’s constituent assembly and parliament, says, “In terms of capital, nobody can compete with China. The biggest opportunity for Chinese companies in Nepal is to build projects in the same manner as the West Seti project.”

Chaudhary added that the 750-megawatt West Seti River hydropower plant has opened a “complete new chapter” for Chinese investment.

The West Seti project drew controversy because there was no public bidding. Chaudhary says other procurement models for future hydropower projects will be utilized. The hydroelectric dam is expected to start construction in 2015 and could be completed and operating possibly by 2020.

The Export-Import Bank of China is providing loans of $1.8 billion for a period of 10 years for the project and Three Gorges Corp will hold 75 percent equity. The Nepal Electricity Authority will hold 25 percent.

In September, the Myanmar government halted work on the Myitsone hydropower station—which is a partnership between China Power Investment Group, the Myanmar ministry of electric power, and a local private company—after protests erupted over potential environmental damage. That project remains on hold. But so far, there has been no opposition to the West Seti project despite the environmental impact, as residents desperately seek ways to improve their quality of life and believe the dam will do so.

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