Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) is deploying the largest solar power plant in Kuwait to be commissioned this year.
This project is in response to the directives received from KOC’s parent company, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), to utilise solar energy in the oil sector and reach the goal set by HH the Emir of Kuwait of producing 15% of energy in Kuwait from renewable resources by 2030.
The project vision is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pertaining from the oil and gas industry operations.
The solar plant uses photovoltaic (PV) panels, which convert light directly into electricity. The plant has a peak capacity of 10 MW, and is designed to provide a minimum of 5 MW during peak hours of summer months under typical weather conditions of the site in Umm-Gudair, West Kuwait.
The plant is synchronized to an 11 kV distribution substation that receives electricity from the national grid to provide electricity to 29 electric submersible pumps (ESPs). “This is the first project of its type in the world, where solar energy feeds ESPs in the oilfield,” says Mr. Saeed Al-Shaheen, Manager of Well Surveillance Group (WSG), responsible for well operation and oil production. WSG championed the development of the project from its early concept, and is supervising the project execution.
The project was awarded through a competitive tendering process to Gestamp Solar, a Spanish company that specialises in providing optimal solutions for PV plants. “This is a turnkey project with five years of operation and maintenance based on a lease model,” said Al-Shaheen.
The PV plant is situated on a 600m x 600 land in Umm Gudair, West Kuwait, and is connected to the nearest distribution substation located 5 km away from the plant through underground cables. Construction has started in the PV Plant, and is targeted to be completed in six months.
The solar plant has 32,500 panels that are mounted on single-axis trackers to increase energy production. During the five year operation and maintenance period that is managed by the contractor, a minimum energy production is guaranteed. “The energy production is measured against actual weather conditions on site, which includes solar irradiation and ambient temperature to adjust the guaranteed generation and compares it with actual electricity delivered to the substation,” saID Dr. Raed Sherif, a solar energy veteran working with WSG on the project.
Approximately 17,000 MWh are to be produced on average every year from the solar plant, which over the course of 25 years reduces a collective amount of 250,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The project was successfully registered with the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to receive Certified Emission Reduction (CER) certificates.
“This is the first project in KOC to be successfully registered with the UN to receive carbon credits,” saID Sr. Eng. Laila Al-Bairami in Well Surveillance Support and Engineering Team, who headed the registration process with the UN CDM. “Future solar projects in KOC will follow the same procedures defined in this project for registration with the UN,” says Al-Bairami.
The successful deployment of this PV project in KOC will spur the development of other projects utilizing solar energy in the oil sector. “There are many opportunities to supplement electricity from the grid with grid-connected PV plants,” says Al-Shaheen, “and where there are no grid connections, the environmental savings are even more when PV is used with diesel generators.”