Historical Overview


The discovery of oil in Kuwait still considered as the main source for national wealth and this has given a rise to a new cultural prosperity in the country in all aspects of modern live such as economic, social, constructional and educational and as a response the electricity services played a vital role in building blocks for this evolving by which it covered the demands of this cultural transition in the country and it developed capacities in these vital facilities for better situation , as clearly noted in the advanced production of electrical energy.

First Beginnings

Kuwait did not have electrical power until 1913 through an Indian/British engineer by the name of N.S. Bhayankar, where an agreement was held between Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah on 13/10/1913 to introduce and supply electricity to Seef Palace with a cost of 7,000 Rupees to operate 400 bulbs and it included a machine that operated on kerosene fuel . In 1934 the country witnessed the real birth of electricity services through launching first small electrical plant for direct electrical current (DC) , it was constructed by (Al-Ahlia Electricity Company) and the production started in this plant with only two generators, each with a capacity of 30 kW and the direct current (DC) was (200) V.

In spite of this small start, which was a good one when looking at Kuwait population back in the day, unfortunately this step faced a setback due to War World II and with the end of it , the company decided to stop the direct current (AC) and gradually shifted to a three phase alternating current (AC) with (220/380) voltage and (50) Hz frequency , then the company launched an electricity generating plant in Mirqab area that included two generators, each with a capacity of (200) kW, and it started operating in the early 1949.

Thereafter, a third generator was added with a capacity of (200) kW and by 1950 the company had completely stopped using the direct current (DC). The company (Al-Ahlia Electricity Company) obtained a used generator with a capacity of (500) kW from Kuwait Oil Company (KOC ) for further suppling to cover the increase in demand for electricity, and it started operating in 1951, where the constructed generating capacity reached to (1100) MW (1.1E MW).

Second: Evolution of the use of electric energy

As a result the country witnessed a modernity boom in various areas of life, citizens stopped using the primitive paraffin lamps and turned towards electrical power and because of that there was an increase in demand for electricity to the extent that it increased voltages on the existing plants, but they were unable to cover that demand. Therefore, the government took it upon themselves to buy shares in Al-Ahlia Electricity Company in 1951 and established a General Electricity Directorate and gave it the authority to provide the necessary electricity and its distribution.

Shuwaikh Station: In 1952, after the government took charge of managing the electricity, it launched the first steam-powered electricity plant in Shuwaikh area near the sea shore to benefit from a process of seawater cooling , in the beginning, this plant had three small steam units, each with a capacity of (750) kW and it provided the first steam-powered plant for desalinated seawater, but these units were stopped after launching three plants , the first plant (A) was launched in 1954-1955 with a capacity of 7.5 x 4 MW, then plant (B) in 1958 with a capacity of 10 x 4 MW (the operate was stopped in 1978) and the last plant (C) was launched in 1961-1962 with a capacity of 30 x 3 MW.

In 1977, five new gas generation units were launched each with a capacity of (40.8) MW and the total capacity production reached to 324 MW. The constructed capacity decreased to (208.2) MW during 1989, which led to four steam units being launched (with a capacity of 75 MW), and another gas unit (with production capacity of 40.8 MW), out of it is actual service, due to it is low efficiency or absence of an economic feasibility to repair and operate it , the production reached (33) million kWh.

North Shuaiba Plant: On one hand the new developments in the North Shuaiba Plant and on the other hand the increase in energy consumption rates by consumers led to the launch of North Shuaiba Plant, where operation of the first steam turbine began in 1965 , it was expanded to consist five steam-powered units with a capacity of (70) MW for each one and both had two gas generating units with a capacity of (25) MW for each and with electrical capacity reached (400) MW, plus a steam unit was placed (with a production capacity of 70 MW) out of it actual service, due to the low efficiency or absence of an economic feasibility to repair and operate. The plant production reached (872) million kWh in 1989 and reached (416) kWh in 1990.

South Shuaiba Plant: With the evolution that happened in the industrial and constructional sides ,the demand for more electrical power increased and based on those demands a new plant was launched in Shuaiba , it was named South Shuaiba Plant and it consisted of six generators with a capacity of (134) MW for each , the first generator was operated in 1970 and the all plants together were generated about (804) MW capacity of power energy and the production rate reached (3032) million kWh in 1998.

Doha East Plant: As a result of this constant increase in demand for electrical power consumption, the government launched Doha East Plant. It consisted of seven generators with (150) MW capacity. The first unit was launched and operated in early 1977. Then, six gas units were operated in summer of 1981, where its current electrical capacity reached 1158 MW, and its production reached (4630) million kWh in 1998. Doha West Plant: The government launched West Doha Plant, which consisted of eight steam-powered generators with a capacity of (300) MW capacity for each one, and it was fully operated before the end of 1984. Its current constructed capacity was (2400) MW, and its production reached (11010) million kWh in 1998

Doha West Plant: The government launched West Doha Plant, which consisted of eight steam-powered generators with a capacity of (300) MW capacity for each one, and it was fully operated before the end of 1984. Its current constructed capacity was (2400) MW, and its production reached (11010) million kWh in 1998

South Zour Plant: The huge turbines in Zour Port served to cover the quick demands for electrical power. Furthermore, the government launched a new plant in South Zour which consisted of eight generators with a capacity of (300) MW each, in addition to a gas turbine plant was launched with (111) MW capacity and the production energy capacity reached (2511) MW and it is whole production reached (101212) million kWh in 1998.

The government had always strives to use the best and the latest equipment available locally which is suitable for circumstances, thus giving way to the best economic results. This arose after the increase in the amount of production units from (7.5) MW to (10) MW and from (30) MW to (134) MW and from (150) MW to (300) MW. Therefore, making use of economic size that distinguishes these large units and this led to cutting down operational costs and maintenance, giving way to higher production efficiency and more positive impact on the production cost.

Electrical grids which transmit the electrical power in Kuwait is widespread via overhead power lines, underground cables and others via main and secondary transmission plants and distribution divisions and all that ensuring electricity reaches all consumers. The electric grids serve various loads and it role is very crucial and very important in covering most of country electrical power needs into vast remote geography areas. distributed in suitable amounts to reach consumers in all areas. In 1934, the electrical networks (grid , mesh) in Kuwait began using overhead lines built from copper wires on wooden poles with direct current (200) V then In 1949 this network was adjusted to alternating current (220/380) voltage and (50) Hz frequency, due to the increase in load , so that expanded the geographical area for Al-Ahlia Electrical Company Services.

After handing over the ownership of the company to the government in 1951 and Generating Plant (A) in Shuwaikh was launched the General Electricity Directorate increased the electric network from (380) V to (11000) V and this expanded the geographical area to cover the increase in consumers demands , collect and distribute 11 KV / 415 V was launched, as well as, underground cables and overhead lines 11 KV to supply them, but this did not last long because , electricity transmission to far (remote) areas was not reached due to technical coverage issues and for this reason in 1958 a new transmission 33 KV was added to Generating Plant (B) in Shuwaikh and this included ground cables, overhead lines 33 KV and power collect plants 11/33 KV in the City and Salmiya. Subsequently, Generating Plant (C) was established in 1961-62 and more expansions were done to transportation network 33 KV and an additional collect plant 11/33 opened up in the City, Hawally and Jahra.

In 1964 when works were undergoing in North Shuaiba Generating Plant, there was a need for an increase in transportation network 132 KV, so the ministry established the first transportation line with 132 KV from Kuwait City to Shuaiba , also they established the main Fifth Ring Road Collect Plant with 33/132 KV to transport electricity to Shuaiba area and Fahaheel, which were used temporarily until the completion of Shuaiba Generating Plant.

More expansion works followed on the transmission network 132. KV to strengthen it after the completion of the plants: North Shuaiba Plant (1965-1969) ,South Shuaiba Plant (1970-1974) and West Doha Generating Plant (1977-1981) which resulted in tremendous amount of electricity transportation through network 132 KV to main collecting plants 33/132 KV and 11/132 KV, which were set up in supply centers at different areas in Kuwait on a wider range, which minimized expansion in network 33 KV.

With the continuous increase in electricity load and the corresponding increase generating plants, transportation network 132 KV reached it is load limit in terms of economic and technic capacity and due to increased loads it was decided that a new transportation network would be built with 300 KV to work simultaneously with the new generating plant (West Doha),this network worked as a link between electrical power plants and main power collecting plant 300 KV, which in turn formed the main supply centers in different areas and for this day the main structure for the network 300 KV is in operation and still links the generating plants with power collecting plants 300 KV in areas Jabriya, Salmiya, Omariya, Fintas, Shuaiba, Sixth Ring Rd, Shuwaikh, South Surra, City, South Sabah Al-Salem , Sulaibiya, and Jahra.

Third : electric load

The maximum electrical load increased tremendously, where in the 50's it reached about 32% yearly, in the 60's it was 26%, in the 70's it was 15% and in the 80's it was 8% and during the past 10 years, there was a decrease in electrical load within reasonable rates based on global standards ,but it is still regarded high scale , where it is in the range of 8-10%, but in the most industrial countries it does not reach more than 2-3% yearly, while in other countries it much less than that even. Naturally, this increase in load and electrical consumption directly reflects the climate condition, the economical and constructional developments for the country in both the public and private sectors, add to that the individual consumption rate reflects and points into excessive consumption due to low level selling prices of electricity.


This huge and tremendous progress that Kuwait achieved in saving water, working side by side to cover the increased demand of water and electricity which remains the most important aspects in the country development ,this was as a result of both oil wealth and continuous efforts to create this comfortable living ,these achievements were reached as a result of all the efforts and money that was provided by the country to develop these vital facilities , table (2) shows the daily average consumption of freshwater (MIGD) and total consumption during 1975-1998.

First: Old water resources in Kuwait

In the past Kuwait relied on artesian wells in various areas in Kuwait to cover the demand for water , it was the main source for drinking water, as well as, the water was brought in through boats and sail ships from the River of the Arab (Shatt Al-Arab). In 1905 they discovered the first well that contained relatively huge amounts of freshwater in Hawally. In 1925, a sailor set his way to the river of the Shatt Al-Arab to bring back freshwater in barrels and emptied it in small tanks near Shuwaikh beach area, and he continued to use this method to transport water through boats for some period of time. Thereafter, barrels were replaced by water tanks, while boats and sail ships operated as Water Tanker Ships.

In 1939 a company was established for fleet management consisting of boats and ships for water transportation from the river, Shatt Arab. They launched 3 tanks on the Gulf beach to collect water brought in from the boats at a rate of 8500 gallon daily and storing it there, by 1946 the first oil tank was shipped and Kuwait needed to invest in modern industrial sources to cover the water population needs. Since the early 50's and specifically in 1951, KOC built a small water unit for distillation of seawater in Ahmadi Port with a capacity of 80k gallons of freshwater daily, and reinforced it to cover continuous demands, it started using a submerged tube and this was the traditional method to evaporate seawater, that goes through a steam condensation process and finally it pumped to the tanks, but this was expensive with little water, which led to a foreign company developing a new method that depended upon evaporation making Kuwait as a pioneer country in region that use this method.

Second: Water Stations in Kuwait

Shuwaikh Plant: The mission to provide freshwater for drinking purposes was one of the main priorities and concerns of the government, where the first plant started it operation using submersible pipes in 1953 ,within the same year the first distillation plant started it operations and production in Shuwaikh with a capacity production of one million gallons daily and continued to develop and expand this production center for freshwater up until Shuwaikh plant had 10 working distillation units with a production capacity of 32 million gallons daily, then this capacity of production decreased in 1988 to 28 MIG due to the three distillation units that were placed (had produced capacity of 4 MIG), out of it is actual service, due to it low/decreased efficiency or absence of an economic feasibility to repair and operate it.

North Shuaiba Plant: With the increased demand on freshwater and electricity, there had to be a development in a new production centers, so in 1965 North Shuaiba Plant started the first water distillation production it consisted of seven distillation units with a production capacity of 14 MIGD, but it is production capacity decreased during 1988 to 9 MIG. This was the reason for installing three distillation units (with a production capacity of 5 MIG), out of it actual service, due to it is low/decreased efficiency or absence of an economic feasibility to repair and operate it.

South Shuaiba Plant: In 1971 it was the first time to operate a distillation unit in South Shuaiba Plant with production capacity of 5 MIGD, this plant included six distillation units and it reached a production capacity of 30 MIGD.

East Doha Plant: In 1978 three distillation units were operated in West Doha Plant and today it is seven distillation units with a production capacity of 42 MIGD.

محطة الدوحة الغربية : تم تشغيل ثلاث وحدات تقطير في محطة الدوحة الغربية عام 1983م ، وتبلغ الآن عدد وحداتها (16) وحدة تقطير سعة كل منها (6) مليون جالون إمبراطوري يوميا ومجموع سعتها المركبة 110,4 مليون جالون إمبراطوري يوميا. محطة الزور الجنوبية : ًفي عام 1988م بدأ بتشغيل 5 وحدات تقطير في محطة الزور الجنوبية و3 وحدات في عام 1989م سعة كل منها (6) مليون جالون إمبراطوري يوميا.

South Zour Plant: In 1988, five distillation units started operation in South Zour Plant and another three units in 1989 each with capacity of (6) MIGD.

Third: Evolution of Water Consumption

As clear from the above, the production capacity of working distillation plants reached 258 MIGD in operation at normal temperature and increased to 282 MIGD in operation at higher temperatures ,while it is maximum recorded consumption in 1998 was 256.2 MIG ,it increased in total freshwater production by the end of the 50's from 1773 MIG in one year to 78367 MIG in 1998,also the individual share of freshwater increased from 4604 gallons in 1959 to 21589 gallons in 1988 and to 39884 gallons in 1997. Hence, this reflects all the major developments in freshwater production that came about in the state of Kuwait.