Kuwait – Electric Power & Renewables

Kuwait Intends to Increase its Power Plant Capacities

Published: 15 March 2019

Ongoing power plant projects will increase capacities to over 20 GW

Kuwait must expand its power plant capacities in order to keep up with the sharp rise in electricity consumption. The peak load achieved in the very hot summer months grew by almost a third between 2010 and 2018, to 14.4 GW. Moreover, reserve capacities are declining.

The Ministry of Electricity and Water expects a further increase in peak load of 13 GW to 26.8 GW between 2017 and 2030 and is aiming for a reserve capacity of 10% (about 3 GW). Since reserve capacity refers to available capacities, the installed power plant capacity should actually be increased to around 34 GW by 2030.

Between 2010 and 2015, capacity grew by a staggering 4.9 GW. Since then, the expansion of power plant capacities has considerably slowed. At the end of 2018, the installed capacity of 18.8 GW was only 534 MW above the 18.3 GW level reached in 2015. Expansion projects at the Az Zour South and Subiya power plants are expected to add a total of 1.25 GW by 2020.


Kuwait: Installed power plant capacities (in MW)

Power plant name 2010 2015 2018 2020*
Shuwaikh 252 252 252 252
Shuaiba South 720 720 720 720
Shuaiba North 876 876 876 876
Doha East 1,158 1,158 1,122 1,122
Doha West 2,541 2,541 2,541 2,541
Az Zour South 4,936 5,806 5,806 6,056
Subiya 2,900 5,367 5,867 6,867
Az Zour North (phase 1) 1,540 1,540 1,540
Shagaya (solar, wind) 70 70
Total installed capacities 13,383 18,260 18,794 20,044


Note: Az Zour North went online in 2016

Source: Ministry of Electricity and Water


The Subiya power plant is currently being expanded with a 750 MW combined gas and steam (CCGT) plant. Siemens is the main technology supplier for the US$ 581 million project, providing two SGT5-4000F gas turbines, one SST5-5000 steam turbine and several generators, as well as switching and control systems. The gas turbines are scheduled to go into operation in 2019, and the steam turbine will be switched on at the end of 2020.

A further 250 MW will be added in Subiya by combining existing gas turbines with a new steam turbine. The steam turbine and generators will be supplied by General Electric. The US$ 216 million project is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

A similar project is currently underway at the Az Zour South power plant. The additional 250 MW capacity at that location cost US$ 204 million. Siemens will provide two steam turbines and a generator which are scheduled to go into operation in mid-2019. Eight Siemens SGT5-2000E gas turbines and two SST5-4000 steam turbines are already in operation in Subiya.

Several power plant projects are in the pipeline, but delays are likely

With a few exceptions, conventional power plants are to be built on a PPP (private-public partnership) basis. The first and so far only power plant built as a PPP project in Kuwait was Phase 1 of Az Zour North (1.5 GW). The US$ 1.7 billion project – including a seawater desalination plant – went online at full capacity in December 2016. The private investor is a syndicate consisting of France’s Engie, the local AH Al Sagar & Brothers and Japan’s Sumitomo. The consortium holds 40% of the operating company Shamal Azzour Al-Oula KSC. The remaining 60% is owned by the Kuwaiti state. An IPO is in preparation, as the state wishes to reduce its stake to 10%.

The Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) is responsible for overseeing PPP projects. Three power plant projects with a total capacity of 8.3 GW, already in the planning stage for several years, could be ready for signature in 2019 or 2020. These are phases 2 and 3 of the Az Zour North power plant (3.2 GW), phase 1 of the Al Khairan power plant (1.5 GW) and the Nuwaiseeb power plant (3.6 GW).

An expression of interest procedure for Az Zour North was carried out at the end of 2018. 47 local and international companies were reported to have participated. For the Al Khairan project, a deadline for the expression of interest expired at the end of January 2019. Both power plants will be realized as DBFOT projects (Design, Build, Finance, Operate, Transfer). A tender for Nuwaiseeb is expected in 2020.


Kuwait: Planned conventional power plants

Project Investment (in US$ million) Project developer
Al Zour North: Phase 2 & 3 (Power Plant) 3,000 Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP)
New Doha East Power & Desalination Plant 2,000 KAPP
Shuaiba South Power and Desalination Plant 1,800 Ministry of Electricity and Water
Nuwaiseeb Power and Water Desalination Plant: Phase 1 1,500 KAPP and Ministry of Electricity and Water
Al Zour North: Phase 4 (power plant) 772 KAPP
Al Zour North: Phase 5 (power plant) 772 KAPP
Al Khairan Power & Desalination Plant: Phase 1 488 KAPP
Al Khairan: Phase 3 480 KAPP
Al Khairan: Phase 2 480 KAPP
Solar PV Facility for Ground Water Reservoirs: Phase 1 82 Ministry of Electricity and Water

Source: author’s research


Unclear path for renewable energies

Kuwait aims to achieve a 15% share of renewable energies in electricity generation by 2030. Thus, renewable energy plants with a total capacity of up to 5.0 GW must be built.

The Shagaya project, launched in 2014 after a long planning period, accounts for the majority of the planned renewable energy capacity. The first phase was completed in 2018 after four years of construction with a 50 MW CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) plant, a 10 MW photovoltaic plant and a 10 MW wind power plant.

The Ministry of Electricity and Water operates the Shagaya project in conjunction with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. Three further expansion phases with a total of 4.8 GW of photovoltaic and CSP capacity are to be conducted. The project is under review, and changes to the concepts are likely. The time schedule is unknown.

Oil company is planning a major photovoltaic project

The Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) is planning to build the 1 GW Al Dibdibah Solar Power Plant and use around 15% of its photovoltaic power itself in the future. The US$ 1.2 billion EPCF (Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Financing) project will be integrated into the Shagaya complex. KNPC has repeatedly extended the deadline for submitting bids; the last deadline was 3 March 2019. A total of 28 companies were able to prequalify.

The total capacity of existing small photovoltaic projects is estimated at 9 MW, which brings the total renewable energy capacity to 79 MW. This translates to only 0.4% of the country’s total electricity generation capacity. However, many smaller photovoltaic projects such as roof-mounted systems are currently being constructed.