The US Hydropower Council for International Development held a roundtable session on 31 October, which was designed to bring together federal agency, multilateral and industry representatives to discuss common goals of developing hydro power.

Industry participants included: AES Corporation, Harza Engineering Company, Dodson Lindblom International, Thelen Reid & Priest, IPA Energy Consulting, Cameron McKenna, Wisconsin Electric, american-hydro, black-veatch, Infrastructure Finance Group and Synergics Energy Development. Federal agency and multilateral participants included: US Trade and Development Agency, US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of Energy, US Department of Commerce, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank.

Donald Clarke from US Hydropower; Griffin Thompson from US AID; and the World Bank’s Barry Trembath opened the session with background on the importance of hydro power development in the global energy economy, outlining potential roles that each organisation plays in encouraging development.

The main topic of conversation among developers was how to be more proactive about good news and best practices when dealing with social awareness and environmental issues. It was mentioned that the World Commission on Dams’ report will significantly impact development and the industry will need to be prepared to discuss its responses in the international development community.

Other topics for discussion focused on a lack of knowledge of developing markets and international finance. Lending and financing cultures differ greatly and is a challenge that projects face.

The World Bank’s position on how the Bank and private sector work together was that projects should be looked at as development projects, with consideration given to other aspects. Financing could also be approached by public/private sector partnerships to allow funds to flow more easily to projects. The World Bank added that it wanted to see small regional development companies dealing with all development needs.

The session established a working group that will convene several times a year to discuss issues facing all the organisations. While industry often meets with financiers, it is rare that the two groups meet with government agencies and have the opportunity to work together. The US Hydropower Council for International Development believes that barriers facing private hydro power investment could be addressed effectively by such a group of representatives.