ISLAMABAD (APP) - Pakistan and Austria agreed on Thursday to capitalise on opportunities to forge cooperation in power sector to help overcome energy shortage that created hoe and cry in Pakistan over the last coupe of years. As a part of the Government's efforts to address the power shortages in the country, Federal Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervez Ashraf, held a meeting with the Austrian Federal Minister for Economy, Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner at Capital Vienna. Both sides had wide ranging discussions on the modalities on how Pakistan could benefit from the Austrian expertise in small hydro sector as well as its state-of-the-art technology. The Federal Minister informed his Austrian counterpart that country's total installed capacity for electricity generation was 20,000MW, while, the demand for electricity was much higher. At the same time, it was growing at the rate of 10pc every year. He added that the hydel-thermal mix in the country was 34:66, the reverse of ideal hydel-thermal mix of 70:30 required for the economic development. The Minister highlighted that country's hydropower potential was over 100,000 MW. Sites for 55000 MW had already been identified and several studies, including Diamer Basha [4500 MW], Bunji (5400 MW) and Kohala (1100 MW) were underway. He said that some of the projects could be offered for bidding as early as within six months. Explaining the process of project implementation in the country, the Minister said that besides participation of the Austrian companies in the international competitive bidding for various projects, two countries could evolve bilateral modalities if the financing arrangements fora project were offered by Austria. The Austrian Minister for Economy, Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner, stated that a number of Austrian companies, some of them in power sector, were already actively engaged in Pakistan. This familiarity with the country offered a platform for further enhancing the bilateral cooperation. On financing arrangements, he pointed out that this had been done in the past for several projects. Therefore, they would consider this option in coordination with the Austrian Export Credit Rating Agency (OeKB). The Minister extended an invitation to his Austrian counterpart to visit Pakistan and offered to show him various hydro-power projects in the country. Later in the day, the Minister had meetings with the Chairman of the Verbund (the largest electricity company in Austria and one of the leading hydro power producers of Europe), the Executive Director of the Austrian Export Credit Rating Agency (Oesterreichische Kontrollbank; OeKB) as well as several Europeans manufacturers /suppliers of the hydropower plant equipment. The minister accompanied by Chairman WAPDA Shakeel Durrani and Superintending Engineer Tarbela Amin Khalil is on a two-day visit to Austria. His meetings would continue tomorrow.