Kuwait is committed to introducing nuclear power into its energy mix. As a country that currently burns 11-15 per cent of its total oil production and imports gas to satisfy domestic electricity demand, the reasons for Kuwait’s interest are clear.
Coupled with forecasts predicting peak power demand will more than double by 2030, Kuwait is keen to ensure its hydrocarbon reserves are not squandered on electricity production.
Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNNEC), now two years old, has made considerable progress on the technical and economic feasibility of developing nuclear power plants. It has assessed different scenarios with nuclear power providing different proportions of the total energy mix and identified several areas suitable for such projects. A nuclear power law is also being prepared.
While much has been achieved, many aspects of the nuclear programme are yet to be determined.
One of the greatest challenges is likely to be financing. The huge upfront costs associated with building new nuclear power facilities could prove a hurdle to Kuwait.
As a wealthy Gulf state, this is less of a problem than it could be in other countries. At the same time, the government has indicated its preference for using the private sector.
The country will also need to press ahead to ensure it does not get left behind by an increasingly constrained nuclear supply chain.
Kuwait is committed to following strict international safety guidelines. Senior sources at KNNEC say Kuwait has reached the end of the first of three phases before a nuclear project is ready to be launched as it has made a “a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear programme”.
Now Kuwait will need to maintain the rate of progress it has started if it is to succeed in building nuclear power capacity.