Solar generation comes of age in Kuwait Hamad-AL-RADHAN

Solar is now more cost-effective than Kuwait’s conventional energy sources. We need to push on developments like the Shagaya solar project.


Solar generation comes of age in Kuwait

April 11, 2024

Hamad Al Radhan, CEO of Life Energy, talks to The Energy Year about Kuwait’s growing appetite for renewables projects and the company’s role in introducing new technologies to the sector. Life Energy is a renewable energy company specialising in electricity generation equipment and energy efficiency.

How has the renewables sector in Kuwait evolved in the past decade?
Kuwait has always experienced serious bottlenecks in the development of solar and renewable energy projects, but in 2023 we saw a significant rise in interest from the government in pushing forward its strategy.
The country has long had plans and targets, but implementation has been an issue because it takes a very long time. Now, projects are moving ahead in a way that we haven’t witnessed before, at least in the past decade.
The introduction of Amiri Decree No. 57 of 2022 and Amiri Decree No. 20 of 2023, which allow the MEW [Ministry of Electricity & Water & Renewable Energy] to purchase renewable energy, shows the government’s willingness to support renewables projects and readiness to pay for them. Although we are still in early stages, the law encourages companies like ours to take steps in the market.

What are the key opportunities and challenges that you see?
The main challenge is uncertainty due to frequent changes at the ministry and in the Cabinet, which have caused delays and limited their ability to follow up on the execution of projects. The renewables sector in Kuwait depends mainly on the government; our utilities and services are driven by it.
They are realising that they need to turn more attention towards green solutions. Solar energy is now more cost-effective than Kuwait’s conventional energy sources. We need to capitalise on the advantage that the sector has now, which is that the MEW can assume more of a leading role and push developments like the Shagaya solar project, which the government knows are necessary.
Work still needs to be done. Several new undertakings have been announced recently, but the award process still takes too long. For example, a 30-MW project from the MEW still hasn’t been awarded even though more than a year has passed.

What would you say are Life Energy’s competitive advantages?
Renewable energy projects in Kuwait, when compared to the region, are relatively small in capacity due to the absence of large-scale installation initiatives. Nonetheless, within Kuwait, we are the market leader, having completed over 200 installations for different projects.
The experience we have gained is invaluable, irrespective of the size of the projects. For example, most of our projects require complex logistics, which is one of the biggest challenges for companies. We can bring our major components from abroad which allows us to provide the most advanced and best-suited solutions.
Besides, we have developed a wealth of experience dealing with Kuwait’s official procedures and requirements. Renewable energy projects have a unique set of requirements when it comes to permits, licences, approvals, and regulatory requirements. Our experience in navigating those procedures, from technical aspects to operation, significantly sets us apart. The expertise we have gained applies regardless of project scale, be it 1 MW or 100 MW.


How is the company preparing for change within the sector?
We are tracking tenders, which have grown a lot in terms of installation capacity. They’ve gone from 1 or 2 MW to 10, 20 and even 30 MW. We are preparing ourselves financially and hiring new people, as well as partnering with the most advanced technology owners to be more competitive.
We are aware that low costs are a must when participating in tenders, but the quality of services cannot be neglected. We are highly experienced and compliant with the highest standards. Life Energy is an approved solar EPC company with the MEW and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
Our aim is to highlight our capabilities and value as a local EPC contractor and to be acknowledged by international entities and developers to support them in Kuwait. We have been working with international partners on different projects in Kuwait, implementing solutions in both energy efficiency and clean energy production and storage.

Can you give us an overview of your latest projects and an idea of your relationships with oil and gas players?
We have delivered 70-75% of the projects for solar rooftops, solar car parks, solar petrol stations, smart cooling and energy control and management in Kuwait, many of which were unique in the country at the time. For instance, we installed solar panels on the rooftop of KNPC’s petrol stations. That was a first. We started with two stations, and then we did 18 more. KNPC aims to build many more petrol stations, and the plan is to install solar panels on each one.
In 2023, KOTC [Kuwait Oil Tanker Company] awarded us with a USD 6-million, six-year contract for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the renewable power generation systems of two liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) filling plants.
We want to participate more in the oil and gas sector, and we have conducted studies for some players to install hybrid systems at their facilities. For example, we aim to introduce off-grid solutions, such as generators, to power equipment and keep critical systems in operation in case of outages.
There are many potential activities for us in oil and gas, both from a product perspective and from an energy production perspective. We anticipate that the current standard tendering cycle will move faster and will be adjusted to incorporate requirements for renewables, such as PPAs [power purchase agreements].

What role do partnerships and technology play in the company’s vision?
We act as a facilitator for technology partners by introducing them to ministries and oil and gas players like we did with Longi Solar Technology and Trina Solar.
The global renewables market moves very fast, and it is becoming more and more competitive. Part of our strategy is to present clients with the best and most advanced products and to make commitments with technology owners, ensuring that the most advanced and reliable technologies are introduced.
At the moment, we are expanding our partnership network, linking up with specific companies that can bring value with the solutions and patents that they have, as we did with ThermaCote.

What are your plans for future growth?
We put our plans on hold due to the pandemic, but in 2024 we want to work more in the UAE, where we already have a branch, and look for opportunities throughout the GCC. The key to our long-term growth as a company is to shift from being a leader in the Kuwait local market, waiting for tenders, to being a company that develops and executes its own projects as well as participates in international PPAs.

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