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Kuwait aims for 10% of its power by renewable energy

Kuwait City “’
ambitious plans for
renewable energy
Kuwait City, Kuwait — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 27 October 2011 – OPEC’s fifth-biggest oil producer aims to generate 10% of its electricity from sustainable sources by 2020, says Eyad Ali al-Falah, assistant undersecretary for technical services at the Ministry of Electricity and Water.

Kuwait is trying to free up oil for export and expand its generation capacity to support increased tourism, manufacturing and home building in a US$112 billion development programme. “To meet its clean-energy target, which exceeds the 7% goal set by Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait must gather data on sunshine and wind speeds,” al-Falah said.

“Renewable energy is a new subject for Kuwait,” admitted al-Falah, who coordinates alternative energy for the ministry. “That’s why there’s a lack of information regarding the suitability of renewables for our weather.”

While analysts are skeptical Kuwait will meet its target, they don´t question the economic case that underpins it. The Arab country consumed 413,000 barrels a day of oil in 2010, about 16% of production, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2011. That’s 66% more than in 2000, while production increased about 14%.

In a nation where summer temperatures can top 50 degrees Celsius, domestic consumption has more than doubled in the last 10 years. In comparison, world electricity demand is expected to grow 2.2% a year from 2008 to 2035, provided current government policies and targets are not scrapped, according to International Energy Agency forecasts.

“We definitely see solar potential in Kuwait,” said Rajit Nanda, chief financial officer for ACWA Power International, a Saudi Arabia-based company that develops electricity and water projects. “While Kuwait hasn’t kick-started renewable energy projects, there’s a lot of peak demand when solar resources are at their best.”

The Ministry of Electricity and Water is “firmly” behind Kuwait’s renewable-energy plans, according to al-Falah. “It’s a long process, but I’m expecting 2014 or 2015 may witness the inception of these solar projects, and the wind turbines. I think of solar as fuel saving, not as an alternative.”

The 10 percent renewable-energy goal by 2020 may be too optimistic, according to analysts.

“Kuwait is not going to come anywhere close to meeting that target,” said Robin Mills, head of consulting at Manaar Energy in Dubai. “The U.A.E. will come closer but will still miss its goal. Kuwait is taking its time deciding which technologies to use, and thereby delaying implementation.”