Kuwait Plans Tender for $1.2 Billion Solar Project in 2018

By Fiona MacDonald

Kuwait will issue a tender to build the estimated $1.2 billion Dibdibah solar-power plant in the first quarter of 2018 as part of the country’s plans to produce 15 percent of power from renewable energy by 2030.

OPEC’s fifth-biggest oil producer set a Sept. 7 deadline for companies to express interest in the 1 gigawatt project, Shukri AbdulAziz Al-Mahrous, deputy chief executive officer of planning and finance at Kuwait National Petroleum Co., said in an interview at the company’s headquarters south of Kuwait City. The cost will be about $1.2 billion, he said. Dibdibah will produce half of the country’s planned renewable energy output, he said.

Building solar plants is part of government efforts to help the environment while benefiting from increased production of petrochemicals and refined products. Kuwait pumped 2.7 million barrels of crude a day in July, less than Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“By freeing up the resources, the crude and fuel oil, you can process them and have a highly valued product,” Al-Mahrous said. “Everything you don’t use has value for the country.”

The 32-square-kilometer (12.3-square-mile) plant, which should be completed by the end of 2020 in Kuwait’s northwest, will save burning 5.2 million barrels of oil a year and reduce carbon emissions by 1.3 million tons annually, Al-Mahrous said.

Kuwait consumes at most 14 gigawatts of electricity a day, usually in the summer when temperatures can top 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Ministry of Electricity & Water. Capacity is 17 gigawatts. The oil industry is the biggest user of power in the country and plans to cover 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020, beating the national target by 10 years, Al-Mahrous said.

Kuwait is building a 615,000 barrel-a-day refinery, a petrochemical plant and a receiving terminal for liquefied natural gas at Al-Zour on the Persian Gulf coast. The refinery will mainly produce low-sulfur fuel oil for use in power plants. Kuwait is also upgrading its two existing refineries, known as the clean fuels project. That will allow for more products to be exported, Al-Mahrous said.

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