20 June 2024

Kuwait has announced temporary power cuts in some parts of the country during peak consumption hours, saying it is struggling to meet increased demand spurred by extreme summer heat.

In a statement on Wednesday, Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy said the scheduled cuts would occur for up to two hours a day, in the first such step for the OPEC member state as climate change causes temperatures to rise.

It blamed the cuts on “the inability of power plants to meet increased demand” during peak hours amid “a rise in temperatures compared to the same period in previous years.”

On Thursday, the ministry published a schedule of expected cuts across several parts of the country, after urging residents to ration consumption to ease the load on power plants.

Kuwait, one of the largest crude producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is considered one of the world’s hottest desert countries.

In recent years, climate change has made summer peaks hotter and longer.

The extreme heat raises reliance on energy-guzzling air conditioners which are ubiquitous in Kuwait during the summer months.

Temperatures neared 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday, according to Kuwait’s Meteorological Department.

“What we are experiencing today is the result of climate change,” said Kuwaiti astronomer and scientist Adel Al-Saadoun, noting that temperatures are expected to climb above the 50 degree Celsius mark in the coming days.

Last month, Kuwait signed short-term contracts to buy 500 megawatts of electricity, including 300 MW from Oman and 200 MW from Qatar, during the summer months. The contracts would last from June 1 to August 31.

Kamel Harami, a Kuwaiti energy expert, said that the Gulf state needed to revamp its energy infrastructure.

“The available energy is not sufficient, and instead of relying on oil and gas, we must go towards nuclear, solar and wind energy,” he told AFP.

“This is only the beginning of the crisis, and the programmed cuts of electricity will continue in the coming years if we do not accelerate the construction of power stations.”

Umm Mohammed, a Kuwaiti woman in her sixties, said she was left without power for two hours on Wednesday.

“We weren’t severely affected,” she told AFP, noting that the house remained cool during the brief outage.

“Some turn their homes into refrigerators, even when they are not inside, and this raises the load” on power plants, she said.

SourceAgence France Presse