Kuwait faces power cuts as consumption soars

Kuwaiti power consumption close to peak output as early summer bites.

Could Kuwait City be plunged into darkness due to mandatory power cuts?
Could Kuwait City be plunged into darkness due to mandatory power cuts?

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The Kuwaiti government could be forced to introduce mandatory power cuts in Kuwait as electricity consumption threatens to outstrip generation.

Recently power consumption peaked at 10,823 MW, dangerously close to the maximum capacity of 11,200 MW, according to figures on the Web site of the electricity and water ministry.

Early summer temperatures in Kuwait have already hit 49.5 degrees Celsius (121.1 Fahrenheit), the highest so far this year, according to the state-run met office.

Electricity and water ministry officials have appealed to consumers to switch off any unnecessary electrical appliances and air-con units, which consume most of Kuwait’s electricity output.

In September 2009, Kuwait signed a US$2.7 billion deal with General Electric of the US and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries to build a 2,000 MW power plant, which is expected to be fully operational by mid-2012. A gas-fired plant at Subbiya, north of Kuwait City, is set to start production next year.

Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah has said that Kuwait aims to double its power generation capacity to more than 20,000 MW over the next five years.

Last month Kuwait’s parliament passed a law to set up shareholding companies to build new power and water desalination plants in the first move to privatise the electricity sector.

Kuwait sells its electricity at a highly-subsidised rate of 0.7 cents per kilowatt/hour to its 1.1 million citizens and 2.35 million foreign residents.

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