Operations start at Kuwait's first ever PV plant

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Each landmark is an important step in PV development in the Middle East, as countries in the region take tentative steps towards market expansion. Yesterday, the first ever utility-scale PV plant in Kuwait began operations, as the country looks to diversify its energy mix.

The Sidrah 500 plant is located at the Umm Gudair oil field, which is owned by Kuwait Petroleum Coporation subsidiary, the Kuwait Oil Company. The 10 MW plant reportedly cost KWD 30 million (USD 99 million) to develop, however, we have not been able to verify that such large sums were spend on the development, as originally the cost had been reported as USD 28 million. The electricity that it produces will be split between the local grid and powering the oil field itself.

It is the first ever solar plant in Kuwait, representing a sign of the times for the oil rich country, which is seeking to diversify its energy mix, as electricity demand increases. The country has now pledged 15% of its energy mix to renewable sources by 2030, which means there will need to be an awful lot of activity in the market to reach this goal.

Other countries in the region are also beginning to get their solar markets rolling, with a number of utility-scale solar tenders over the last couple of years. So far in 2016, two world records have been broken for low priced solar, during tenders in Middle Eastern countries.

The first of these was in June when a bid by a consortium led by Abdul Latif Jameel, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, and Masdar, was the first ever to offer prices below 3$c/kWh, with an offer of 2.99$c/kWh for an 800 MW project in Dubai. Then, most recently, three world record bids were entered in a solar auction in Abu Dhabi for the 350 MW Sweihan project. The lowest of the bids was an astonishing 2.42$c/kWh by a consortium of JinkoSolar and Marubeni.