With the presence of a large number of high level officials, academics and experts from the private sector in the field of smart electrical grids and renewable energy sources from Kuwait and the EU, the Kuwaiti Society of Engineers in cooperation with the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network, funded by the European Union (EU), organised last week within the first Kuwait Smart Grids Conference & EXPO, a high level EU GCC Conference. The aim of the two-day event, held under the patronage of the Minister of Electricity and Water, was to discuss Smart Grid technologies options suitable for the region, exchange best practice information and lessons learned and advance collaboration by bringing together stakeholders from the EU, Kuwait and the Arab region.
Nonetheless, the event witnessed the presence of the representative of the newly established EU Delegation in Kuwait, Ms. Irina Gusasenko, Political Relations officer who delivered an opening address, as well as a number of EU ambassadors and representatives of EU embassies including the Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Mr. Stephan Mobs, the Ambassador of Poland, H.E. Mr. Pawel Lechowicz, the Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Mr. Carlo BALDOCCI, the Ambassador of Malta, H.E. Mr. Patrick Cole, Ambassador of Croatia, H.E. Mr Amir Muharemi, the Ambassador of Slovakia, H.E. Mr. Igor Hajdushek, the Ambassador of Hungary, H.E. Dr. István Soós, as well as the Ambassador of Cuba, Mr. Fernando Pérez Maza, and the Trade representative of the British Embassy, Mr. Alain Menez, as well as the Economic Attaché of the Embassy of France, Mr. Charles Derrac, and many local, regional and EU delegates.
The presentations were rich in scientific information provided from 35 researchers and experts coming from more than sixteen countries including Germany, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, as well as Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria but also Canada, India and other countries.
Dr. Badr Al-Taweel, co-Chairman of the Scientific Committee, mentioned that the conference accomplished its scientific and cognitive objectives through the findings of the technical sessions, raising and benefiting from important topics worthy of attention.
The committee defined the top recommendations to be directed to the President of the Kuwait Society of Engineers and to the Director of the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network as well as to interested researchers and experts from both regions, aiming to identify follow up actions and cooperation opportunities.
Recommendations and conclusions focused around the following points:
- The Ministry of Electricity in Kuwait was able to build 20 power plants since its establishment with a capacity of up to 19 GW. Matter-of-factly, the country is expected to need 38 gigawatts of electricity by 2026, thus the Ministry of Electricity and Water must str power plants with a capacity equivalent to "twenty plants." For the record, the current capacity of 19GW was installed over the course of nearly sixty years, while according to the target, another 19GW must be installed in a brief period, not exceeding seven years, this time. Definitely, it is a strategic national challenge.
Studies argue that the Ministry of Electricity and Water will need seven years to establish a single power plant. Obviously, time will be a considerable obstacle on the way of the future aspirations of the country. This period does not commensurate with the projects of the modern world and should urge to find modern solutions, speed up the movement of “planning, design, selection procedures and execution.” That is, for more professional, quality, and timely plants. This will not be achieved unless moving towards modern energy thought, of which the smart grid technologies are an important part.
- The Ministry of Electricity and Water has taken a notable quality initiative in applying GIS to many distribution lines and loads in several areas in Kuwait. This initiative is of great importance towards the implementation of electrical grids. The critical matter now is to complete them as soon as possible in order to apply GIS to all lines and loads as well as on-going modern projects. Moreover, it should be a crucial part of the design and implementation terms. In addition, it should be applied to renewable energy projects, whether large-sized, power plants, or even small ones as rooftops, as the geographic information directly and effectively contributes to the management of the electric system in terms of development, maintenance, etc.
- The adoption of the latest technologies will improve the electrical grid and enhance the harmony of the electricity system, especially after the deployment of multiple types of renewable energy sources, i.e. solar PV, which soon will become widespread in many buildings and facilities in Kuwait.
Scientific studies presented at the conference showed that the experiences of many countries including from the EU, suggest that connecting renewable energy sources with the electrical grid requires identifying suitable locations which respond in effective manner to the weather conditions. The energy dynamics in grid lines may be affected negatively or even lead to power outage if these considerations are not considered.
- During the sessions and the discussions carried out, it was evident that the EU has a lot of experience, best practices and lessons learnt on Smart Grids to share with Kuwait partners and the GCC. Smart Grids is a key priority of the EU energy strategy. The EU aims to replace at least 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 2020 wherever it is cost-effective to do so. This smart metering and smart grids rollout can reduce emissions in the EU by up to 9% and annual household energy consumption by similar amounts.
The European Commission has set-up since 2009 a Smart Grids Task Force to advise on issues relating to smart grid deployment and development. Their work shape the EU smart grids policy and regulatory frameworks focusing on the areas of: Smart grid standards; Regulatory recommendations for privacy, data protection and cyber-security in the smart grid environment; Regulatory recommendations for smart grid deployment; Smart grid infrastructure deployment; Implementation of smart grid industrial policy.
- The presented studies at the conference stated that smart meters are a pivot of the modern electricity system—a substantial step taken by the Ministry of Electricity and Water. It also showed that smart meters are easy victims for cyber attacks because of its commercialized design. In fact, hackers caused the outage of electricity in 25,000 houses and institutions in less than 28 seconds via smart meters in Colorado. In addition, studies showed that the GCC region is an open field regarding cyber assault, which may cause future disasters in case of a lack of attention in specialized network protection. Needless to say, the country experience is limited to overcome smart meters risks and to address these risks properly.
- Cybersecurity and challenges related to it are evolving at a rapid pace, which is why the European Union has taken a series of measures to tackle it. Key among these is the establishment of a comprehensive legislative framework on Cybersecurity. Accounting for the particularities of the energy sector that require special handling, in April 2019, the European Commission adopted sector-specific Guidance to implement horizontal cybersecurity rules. This guidance aims to increase awareness and preparedness in the energy sector.
- Many of the scientific papers explained the solutions and contemporary techniques applied in Kuwait, the EU and globally in the processes of cleaning photovoltaic panels as well as the use of "Drones" to detect errors in transmission lines and ways of helping to handle failures, especially in rough places. All of these solutions can enhance the business effectiveness in Kuwait. It is our recommendation that the MEW establishes a research and development entity within its administrative structure to address MEW technical challenges to provide proper guidance to the educational and commercial sectors, directly or indirectly, to assist them to manage electricity issues and challenges. Towards this path, learning from the international experience will be of great value.
- Collaboration among EU and Kuwait entities on Smart Grids can be very beneficial for both regions. The EU GCC Clean Energy Network is a flexible mechanism to facilitate this interaction and know how exchange.
- The successful partnership between the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network and the Kuwaiti Society of Engineers acts as a stepping stone for future collaboration on the smart grids and technologies topics. The two entities are fully engaged and determined to combine their efforts and resources to jointly advance the promising topic of Smart Grids in the region.