We are especially supportive of PV technology, but we want to have as many renewable generation plants as possible connected to the grid.


Kuwait’s champion of renewable megawatts

June 11, 2024

Ahmad Al Dousari, head of the renewables department at Kuwait's Ministry of Electricity & Water & Renewable Energy (MEWRE), talks to The Energy Year about providing for the robustness of Kuwait’s electricity infrastructure and increasing the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix. The MEWRE is the government body responsible for providing electricity and water in Kuwait.

How would you assess the status of Kuwait’s power infrastructure?
Electricity demand is increasing every year and we plan to meet it. Since renewable sources are discontinuous, our strategy is to have backup gas turbines across the grid. We have them in all of our plants, and they run on natural gas in a fuel mix that is almost 20% hydrogen.
Our power stations run on natural gas and oil, with most of them running on LNG, which has a smaller carbon footprint compared to coal and crude oil. Our steam turbines run on gas oil, which is more efficient than coal.
We are working on reducing our emissions and saving energy while assessing how to bring more alternative sources into the energy mix. Starting in November 2023, all of our power and water distillation stations have used and will be using low-sulphur fuels, mainly gas oil and natural gas.

What is the latest news on the Shagaya Renewable Energy Park?
Shagaya is being developed as a PPP project with EY as the transaction adviser and DNV as the technical adviser. In partnership with KAPP, we have been conducting feasibility and environmental studies, and we recently released the RFQ [request for qualifications] for the first phase.
The infrastructure will include three PV zones of 1.7, 1.5 and 1.1 GW, and one zone with a 200-MW CSP [concentrated solar power] system that has five hours of storage capacity to compensate for the downtime of the PV modules and provide stability. We aim to have everything completed and fully connected to the national grid by 2028.


What incentives is the government offering to make renewables projects attractive to investors?
The purpose of structuring Shagaya as a PPP project was to attract investors, and one of its main priorities is to provide a competitive LCOE [levelised cost of electricity]. Together with KAPP and investors, we have set prices that are more competitive than those found worldwide.
We plan to offer incentives such as free land for developers, as well as abatements on taxes and Customs duties throughout the duration of contracts, which will be between 25 and 30 years. These measures will be advantageous for both the developers and the banks that finance the projects.
15 domestic and international companies have already expressed an interest in participating in the Shagaya RFQ, and we expect to hear from a total of 30-35. Kuwait is considered internationally to be reliable and safe for investment, and we have already successfully launched similar projects. Az Zour North One, for example, has one of the lowest LCOE in the world, and that contract runs for 40 years.

Does the MEWRE have other projects in the pipeline to mitigate power shortages?
Yes. One is the Al Abdaliyah 200-MW PV project, which will be an EPC tender. We don’t have a launch date yet, but we are working on the technical aspects and the infrastructure is already there, so it will be easier to execute than Shagaya. Then, we are moving forward on between 10 and 20 small projects that will add up to around 300 MW. One of them will be in the Sabiya water disruption plant and contemplates installing photovoltaics on the rooftops of the water reservoirs for an extra 30 MW of capacity.
In addition to addressing power shortages, we are also working to improve the energy mix. Kuwait committed to generating 15% of its power from renewables by 2030, but thanks to Shagaya and the smaller projects that will be completed before the end of the decade, we are confident that we will exceed our set goal.

How does the MEWRE work with public and private institutions to strengthen the power sector?
In Kuwait, all activities related to the generation and distribution of power are integrated into the MEWRE, while the infrastructure, from overhead lines to substations, is owned by the government. The private sector comes into the picture for specific projects such as Az Zour North Phase 1 and Shagaya or the conventional power plants at Az Zour North Phase 2 and 3 and Al-Khairan, which will be structured as PPPs.
We are keen to support any project that makes the grid more robust. While we are especially supportive of proposals based on PV technology, we want to have as many renewable generation plants as possible connected to the grid.
Another important aspect to consider is training. The contract for Shagaya will include provisions for training programmes that must be carried out over the duration of the contract. The MEWRE offers several courses in collaboration with institutions such as the KFAS [Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences] to train engineers and give them a solid foundation in energy transition technologies, from solar to green hydrogen.
We believe there is synergy among academic institutions in Kuwait, and we are working towards agreements with international certification bodies to train our engineers and prepare them with the right technological background for our future undertakings.

What are the MEWRE’s plans to help the oil and gas sector decarbonise its operations?
We have several collaborations in place with the K-companies to support their net-zero targets and we expect to sign an MoU with KOC soon for a 1-GW PV project. In a 2016 oilfield solar project, Sidrah 500, KOC installed 10 MW of capacity, and they connected 5 MW to their pumping site and 5 MW to the grid. That was KOC’s first large-scale PV installation, and we supported their connection to the grid.

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