Kuwait to embrace renewable energy in three years

Speaking at a renewable energy workshop which took place yesterday at the Kuwait Municipality headquarters, the minister revealed, "We will introduce solar energy in all government buildings in the first phase. Later it will be also applied in the other buildings.

Dr. Safar revealed that a number of the development plan-related projects currently underway will be harnessing renewable energy, including one innovative project in Abdally where the Japanese contractors will be introducing power-generating wind turbines to harness Kuwait’s wind energy potential.

Another example cited by Safar was a plan to introduce renewable energy in meeting householders’ domestic power needs. He stressed that the government is keen on seeing the expansion of renewable energy resources in Kuwait, revealing that the government has already "conducted a number of deals and treaties for transferring the technology for producing renewable energy to Kuwait.

Yesterday’s workshop on renewable energy, which aimed to increase awareness of the issue, was organized by the Renewable Energy Development Organization (REDO), which works under the umbrella of the United Nations. Many people are already working voluntarily in this field in Kuwait, Safar explained, with the experts from the UN visiting the country to disseminate information about this issue and how renewable energy can be harnessed locally.

Kuwait is blessed with large resources of renewable energy, such as sun, wind power, water and others," the minister said. "We have the resources to harness this energy and use it.

Renewable energy has many benefits, Dr. Safar pointed out: "The best thing about renewable energy is that it’s environmentally friendly and its harmful or negative effects are almost nil. Kuwait will definitely benefit from using these different sources, especially solar energy, in different projects.

In another seminar on the same subject held at the Sheraton Hotel yesterday, one local renewable energy expert said that Kuwait is three years away from being able to commit itslf totally to relying mainly on renewable energy. Speaking to the Kuwait Times, the REDO’s Secretary General, Ghadeer Al-Saqabi, said, "Kuwait has no time frame to engage itself in the issue of renewable energy, but Kuwait has to do so or it will be under attack from countries that produce oil but do not pay carbon tax.

We need to see Kuwait fully embrace this renewable energy source in three years’ time," he insisted. "It could be earlier, by maybe two years. We give them a maximum of three years. I expect Kuwait will adopt renewable energy within at least a three-year period.

Kuwait’s massive oil resources have contributed to global productivity that fuels a high contemporary quality of life that is enjoyed in many countries. The use of oil also comes with disadvantages, however. At a press conference organized by the REDO during yesterday’s event at the Sheraton, Maria Mercedes Seidler, a Fellow and Transactional Advisor for Crisis and Energy Markets, pointed out that it is well-known that our modern fossil fuel-based economies have come at a high environmental price.

Air quality in Kuwait is one example [of the] local consequences, and many governments are in agreement that climate change is a global consequence," she said. The visiting experts voiced hope that they will be able to contribute to the dialogue taking place within the Kuwaiti government. The REDO has been helping to move Kuwait toward a new direction in energy that will contribute to environmentally and economically sustainable power generation and consumption in the country.

Energy is the master resource that is the productive and economic driver of society," Seidler indicated, adding that she had been impressed by the Kuwaiti government’s efforts and its willingness to engage in dialogue with the REDO on these environmental challenges. "[The government] shares the belief in a need for a role for renewable electricity generation in order to develop a path to long term environment and economic sustainability for Kuwait," she added.

According to Seidler, a group of United Nations members has determined that there must be a movement away from the use of oil and other fossil fuels which incurs a large carbon cost felt by both producers and consumers. Countries have been preparing for a new carbon-based economy, including countries that are not signatories to the Kyoto Protocol such as the US, by enacting renewable energy statues and adopting carbon reduction policies," she explained.

Seidler suggested, however, that the first step should be formulating laws that will help implement such renewable energy initiatives. "In drafting renewable energy laws, experts from other countries, both ethical, and legal are greatly needed to guide them to success," she stated. "Kuwait may appear to be behind in renewable energy deployment when compared to other nations. In reality, Kuwait’s in a timely position to implement the legal and policy infrastructure that can build on the success of the other countries.

One point reiterated by all the speakers was the key nature of renewable energy as a solution to the current challenges facing the world.

In his presentation, senior energy consultant Dr Eric Rueland talked about several renewable energy resources which he said could be utilized to solve not just energy but environmental challenges, such as the use of wind, hydro (water), solar, biomass, biofuel and geothermal energy. Rueland focused primarily, though, on solar energy which, according to the REDO’s studies , remains by far the greatest untapped source of renewable energy.

According to Rueland, many countries which do not receive large amounts of daily sunshine, including Germany, now use solar energy extensively, with Germany now considered the number one user of this natural energy resource. Rueland said that the price of solar energy has drastically reduced from 15,000 euros per photovoltaic in 1980s to only 3,135 in 2009.

The REDO was officially established in New York at the beginning of this year. With three regional offices, in New York, Spain and Kuwait, the organization will promote the widespread and rapidly increasing adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, REDO intends to facilitate access to all the relevant renewable energy information, including technical data, economic data and renewable resource potential data.

The organization will also share experiences on the best practices and lessons learned regarding policy frameworks, capacity-building projects, available finance mechanisms and renewable energy related energy efficiency measures.

By Ben Garcia And Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times, www.kuwaittimes.net/