x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

To save energy, Kuwait closes schools early

The summer heat places intense pressure on the country's power grid.

KUWAIT CITY // The minister of education said schools would finish early and kindergartens will be closed as part of a raft of emergency measures announced yesterday to reduce the country's record power consumption in response to a heat wave. Moudhi al Humoud, the minister, said that students, teachers and administrative staff in "educational facilities" would finish at 1pm rather than 2pm and the power supply will be cut off to kindergartens after meeting with ministry of education officials, the state news agency, Kuna, reported.

Bader al Shuraian, the minister of electricity and water, said that all ministries and agencies would turn off air conditioners and unnecessary lights at the end of the working day and ministry of defence said military camps will use diesel generators to ease demand on power stations. Kuwait's power infrastructure has been under intense pressure as residents turn up their air conditioners to relieve temperatures that have soared to 50°C in the city and 53°C in some parts of the desert. The temperatures have pushed consumption to a record level of 10,921MW, according to the ministry of electricity and water's web site yesterday, just 2.5 per cent below the maximum capacity of 11,200MW.

The minister of state for cabinet affairs, Roudhan al Roudhan, described the peak consumption as "very alarming" and urged the country to use electricity "judiciously". The minister said the power crisis was not only in Kuwait, but in other Gulf states, too. Parliamentarians have called for a special session to discuss the crisis in parliament on Sunday and some have asked for the working day in the public sector to finish early to reduce the strain on power stations.

Even the ministry of electricity and water's headquarters in South Surra was not immune from the deteriorating power situation on Monday when it was hit with an electricity blackout, according to an employee. The country's aging power delivery network is under serious strain and fires have broken out at several transformers in recent days, causing blackouts in those areas. The ministry of electricity and water has said that it has not resorted to programmed power cuts to reduce the country's demand.

@Email:jcalderwood@thenational.ae