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KUWAIT: Policemen direct traffic at an intersection during a power outage on June 19, 2024. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat
KUWAIT: Policemen direct traffic at an intersection during a power outage on June 19, 2024. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Rolling power cuts hit Kuwait

Over 40 areas affected as mercury soars to 52C • Ban on noontime motorbike deliveries

KUWAIT: Massive power outages hit over 40 residential areas on Wednesday as temperatures soared to 52 degrees Celsius in most areas in the country, leading power consumption to rise close to the danger level and prompting authorities to resort to programmed cuts. The ministry of electricity and water and renewable energy said in a statement that the cuts were necessitated as power generation plants were unable to meet rising demand during peak hours, in addition to the rise in temperatures compared to the same period in previous years.

The ministry added that in order to protect the stability of the electricity network, it had resorted to “programmed cuts” for between one and two hours in various areas. The ministry urged consumers to rationalize power consumption during the peak hours from 11 am to 5 pm daily so that the ministry will not be compelled to resort to the same action again. The traffic department of the interior ministry also banned motorcycle delivery riders from the streets from 11 am to 4 pm from Sunday, June 23 until the end of August.

The areas affected by the blackouts were spread across the country and included parts of Kuwait City, disrupting major traffic lights and leaving many stuck in elevators. Police were dispatched to regulate traffic at several intersections around Kuwait, the interior ministry said, urging motorists to follow policemen’s instructions.

The health ministry clarified in a statement that there were no power outages in general hospitals, specialized centers or blood banks. Medical services in a limited number of primary care centers (clinics), which experienced temporary power outages, were not affected as backup generators were immediately deployed.

The cuts came just a day after the ministry of electricity and water began receiving around 400 MW of power from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) power grid, out of the 500 MW purchased by Kuwait. Kuwait has been facing imminent power production shortages for the past several years as the construction of new power stations was not sufficient to meet fast-rising consumption. According to some unofficial studies, the ministry is facing a shortage of 1,331 MW this year, 1,440 MW next year and as high as 1,650 MW in 2026.

The ministry signed an agreement two weeks ago to import some 500 MW from the GCC power grid. But the sudden unexpected rise in temperatures sent consumption levels beyond the production capacity. The problem is expected to persist, at least in the coming four days, when maximum temperatures are forecast to remain above 50 degrees Celsius in most areas of Kuwait, including Kuwait City and Kuwait Airport. The Meteorological Department said the current heatwave was caused by an extremely hot spell resulting from the Indian monsoon.

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