Escalating outages in Kuwait prompt solar energy proposal

Power interruption rattles Kuwait’s agriculture sector

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KUWAIT CITY, June 22: The repercussions of the programmed power cutoff have started to cast a shadow on the agricultural sector. Kuwait Farmers Union has confirmed that many farms refrigerate their produce to protect them from high temperatures, warning that the programmed power cuts will damage products and inflict massive losses on their owners. Vice President of the union Majed Al-Huwaila pointed out that the farmers’ losses will be in the millions if the power outage in farms continues. He asserted that electricity is an artery for everyone, especially agricultural products.

Residents of Hawally navigate through a power outage that struck the area at 3 am on Friday.

President of the Dairy Producers Union Abdul Hakim Al-Ahmad asked Minister of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy and Minister of State for Housing Affairs Dr. Mahmoud Boushahri to exclude farms from the planned power cuts. In a press statement, Al-Ahmad said his appeal stems from the total dependence of farms on electricity for milking cows and refrigeration of produce. “In the event of a power outage, even for a minute; the milking connections will fall to the ground, and be exposed to pollution and epidemic. Around 25,000 cows produce 250 tons of milk in Sulaibiya farms daily. The 50 farms operating in Sulaibiya do not affect the power load monitored and tracked by the ministry, as they have alternatives to power generators.

Other sites affect the power load,” he argued. He asserted that the ministry should inform farm owners about the programmed power cut at least two hours in advance in order to prepare electrical alternatives like generators and other, because the loss of milk during the power cut will be double as the farmer’s work continues 24 hours a day. He also touched on another issue concerning the farms and their owners – the maintenance of roads leading to the farms and internal roads. He emphasized the suffering of the users of these roads that extend three kilometers and are used by 200 cars and trucks serving the farms. He urged the Public Works Ministry to complete these repairs quickly. He added: “We want the Ministry of Finance to pay the dues for the fiscal year; because we have not received the budgets for December 2023, January, February and March 2024. The budget of KD5 million covers eight months of the year, while the price of a liter of milk is still 140 fils and the subsidy is 80 fils. It is no secret to those familiar with the conditions of the union that a ton of alfalfa was worth KD90 and it reached KD200.

The price of a bag of fodder rose from KD2 to KD4.” Amid the escalating power outages across the country, Municipal Council member Munira Al-Amir has submitted a proposal to find sustainable solutions through solar energy production by citizens, government entities and the private sector, reports Al-Jarida daily. This initiative seeks to address the country’s energy challenges by incentivizing the generation of solar power and its sale to the State. Al-Amir disclosed that the proposal has three main components. First, it advocates for the incorporation of new regulations stating the requirements and specifications for installing solar panels in government and private buildings within the framework of new construction projects. Second, it calls for establishing streamlined processes to license locations for solar energy production units owned by individuals and companies.

Third, initial standards and controls will be set to ensure these projects align with the State’s overall structural plan. She highlighted the significance of Decree No. 57/2022, which facilitates and encourages energy production and sale to the State. She emphasized the need for collaboration with key authorities; particularly the Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy; to implement these initiatives effectively. Regarding recent developments, Al- Amir praised His Highness the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah’s decision to contract the establishment of a solar energy production field as a pivotal step towards meeting Kuwait’s energy needs. She underscored the urgency of diversifying energy sources amidst growing energy demands and potential constraints in meeting them, as highlighted by recent ministerial statements. She pointed out as well that government agencies and private petroleum facilities are the largest consumers of electrical energy.

She suggested that integrating energy production units on their premises could alleviate part of the energy demand and foster resilience against power disruptions. She affirmed that the proposal marks the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to explore and implement solar energy solutions across the country; thereby, laying the groundwork for sustainable energy production and enhanced energy security in the country. On the other hand, a source from the Kuwait Municipality commented on the recent power cuts; confirming that the Municipality’s systems remained operational due to backup generators, ensuring uninterrupted services and safeguarding essential data and operations.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy anticipates unprecedented increases in energy consumption in the coming years, projecting a peak of 17,250 megawatts by the summer of 2025 and 20,905 megawatts by 2026, reports Al- Jarida daily. These projections coincide with ongoing urban expansion and developmental projects across the country. However, recent government reports have highlighted delays in energy production projects, posing a potential crisis for the ministry in the upcoming summer. Sources from the ministry disclosed that a power production unit at South Zour Station, which had been offline due to maintenance, was successfully restored Thursday. Another unit was also brought online after necessary repairs, contributing over 500 megawatts to stabilize the grid amidst high electrical loads exacerbated by soaring temperatures.

The ministry emphasized its commitment to restoring all production units promptly, attributing recent delays to maintenance tender delays. Despite facing peak electrical loads on Friday, the Electricity Authority has not announced any scheduled power cuts. The maximum load recorded peaked at 16,410 megawatts between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, gradually tapering off as afternoon temperatures began to cool. As of 5:20 pm Friday, the load index stood at 15,916 megawatts, reflecting ongoing efforts to manage energy demand effectively. Senior officials at the ministry have submitted their visions on dealing with the current power crisis in the next 10 days, reports Al-Rai daily quoting sources. Sources confirmed that by the beginning of July 1,200 megawatts will be added to the electricity network; that is, upon completion of maintenance works in South Zour Power Plant. Sources said the senior ministry officials stressed the need to quickly obtain approval from the Ministry of Finance and State Audit Bureau (SAB) to float tenders for the maintenance of power plants in order to enhance power production.

By Abdel Nasser Al-Islami
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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