I’m going to start a series of posts called Kuwait 2030 where I will outline some ideas about where I would like Kuwait to be in twenty years. I’m going to outline each idea and then some realistic steps on how to achieve the goal.
- Kuwait as a worldwide hub for solar energy research
- A new manufacturing industry for Kuwait exporting solar panels and creating manufacturing and research jobs for Kuwaitis
- Kuwaiti energy supply to be 20% solar
The idea is to create a brand new research and manufacturing industry in Kuwait. It is a challenge for the nation in the same way Kennedy challenged Americans to land on the moon. How can we achieving the goals outlined above?
- Create a Solar Institute somewhere out in the desert with a practically unlimited budget, as an offshoot of KISR or even as an entirely new entity. It should be an independent authority that is held accountable to agreed upon milestones and deadlines. It is a research center, patent holding entity and a post-graduate school.
- Purchase many established and new foreign Solar energy companies to acquire talent and patents to get a head start at the institute. All of the acquired firms will relocated some of their research and training facilities to Kuwait.
- Select the best and brightest young Kuwaiti engineers and guide them through PhD’s and promise them a generously rewarding future (both financially and scientifically). This would be a national patriotism project in the same way kids were inspired by NASA to become engineers in the 50’s and 60’s.
- Provide generous subsidies to Kuwaiti industrialists and allow them a financially feasible way to build solar panel manufacturing plants using the patents and methods acquired by the Solar Institute. Yes, that would be picking winners and losers, but we have to do this in order to start the ball rolling.
- Begin to slowly raise electricity prices while providing an energy rebate to compensate.
- Offer to install solar panels for free on rooftops in Kuwait which will be leased by the homeowners. That way, they cannot be resold, but the homeowner and the country benefit. If the solar panel is removed, the homeowner is fined.
- A national initiative whereby homeowners and industry can sell back excess energy generated by them back to the national grid. This means if your home generates more energy than it consumes, you can sell this energy back to the grid and make money doing nothing.
This has been attempted by Abu Dhabi with their Masdar Institute. It’s a great idea, although their plans for Masdar City were unrealistically ambitious. They have a big head start. I don’t see why we can’t do the same and share our research with each other. KISR have already been planning for something similar and I hope lawmakers take their ideas and calls to action seriously.
Solar energy is almost perfect for the Gulf. We have so much capital now and all solar energy needs to take off is a huge initial investment in the research and manufacturing base. Once we have the research and the solar panels moving out the door, the whole thing becomes self sustaining. It is such a great investment for the future of our country and the GCC. The time will come when we will no longer have oil to sell to the world. Oil will run out, but the sun will always shine. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make some money off that too?