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Kuwait, Iraq target new hydrogen and solar projects


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Iraq and Kuwait are planning new projects to boost renewable energy focused on solar and hydrogen, senior officials from the oil-rich producer countries said Feb. 20.

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Kuwait is developing a low-carbon strategy that will ease its transition through to 2035 on a "continuous basis", its oil minister Mohammad Alfares told the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Riyadh.

The northern Gulf state is considering a pilot project in "blue and green hydrogen technology", Alfares said.

"It is under study and to be piloted shortly," he added.

Kuwait also plans to develop a 2 GW wind and solar project, which will be tendered by the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects.

Meanwhile, Iraq is also considering the strategic adoption of renewable energy as a way to wean itself off of Iranian imports of gas and power, its oil minister Ihsan Ismail told IPTC.

"Keeping the power generation dependent on hydrocarbons is costly for Iraq," Ismail said.

"Iraq now [has] shortage in gas. We have bought gas from outside Iraq. So going ahead with solar energy is not only [good for] climate change, it is a commercial issue and we have good space for to develop that. So this is our strategy," he added.

Iraq, OPEC's second-largest producer, needs oil revenues to meet up to 90% of government expenditure.

The country plans to put together a "technical service contract" with Saudi Arabia's utility developer Acwa Power to plug the gap in solar energy in Iraq, Ismael said.

"We have a good deal with TotalEnergies on a pilot project for hydrogen. We have progressed with BP on solar energy. BP is one of the biggest IOCs in Iraq," he added.

Baghdad is pushing through a strategy through 2030 to "freeze" power generation from hydrocarbons to 33 GW and add the remaining required capacities from wind and solar.

Iraq's search for developers willing to invest in renewables in a country with damaged power infrastructure, rampant electricity theft and gas flaring, comes amid growing demand.

"Every year, there is 5% growth in energy consumption," Ismail said.

Iraq has already attracted regional developers such as the UAE renewable energy company Masdar to build up to five solar projects across Iraq.

The country plans to bolster guarantees for more regional and international developers to come and invest not only in hydrocarbons but also in renewable projects.

"There is a sovereign guarantee for any project in solar energy exceeding 500 megawatt. So that is the strategic strategy plan and there is an annual budget to secure the budget for that," Ismail said.