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Kuwait plans a new energy future

SEI worked with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to produce the country’s first-ever energy outlook, which envisions a future less dependent on fossil fuels.

Photo: Charles Heaps / SEI

Date published
28 July 2020
A story from

This impact story is from our 2019 annual report.

Oil is the backbone of Kuwait’s economy. The oil industry accounts for 40% of the country’s GDP, and, together with natural gas, meets almost all of the country’s energy needs.

To ensure its continued prosperity in a low-carbon future, Kuwait needs to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and foster economic diversification. In 2019, the Kuwait Energy Outlook (KEO) laid the groundwork for this transition, providing the first-ever economy-wide analysis of energy consumption and production in the country.

SEI was crucial to this effort, working with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) to develop a scenario analysis in the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system. The result was detailed analyses of the residential, transportation, desalination and electricity generation sectors – and ideas for how Kuwait can transition to a more diversified, renewables-based energy system.

Photo: Charles Heaps / SEI.

Using LEAP to map out a sustainable future

LEAP is SEI’s flagship software tool for low emissions development planning. Both user-friendly and highly flexible, the system is the result of three decades of continuous improvements, based on carefully listening to the needs of developing country policymakers. It now boasts over 40 000 users worldwide, with dozens of countries using LEAP to plan their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.

LEAP’s success is largely due to its user-centred design and continuous evolution. SEI focuses on the needs of developing country planners, not just expert modellers. While the capabilities of LEAP have dramatically improved over the years, equally as important has been the continual improvements to all aspects of the tool: its algorithms, its usability and its capabilities for visualizing results in a form that is highly meaningful to planners and highly policy relevant.

In Kuwait, KISR chose LEAP for the Energy Outlook “because of its balance between simplicity and usefulness”. Researchers were able to model Kuwait’s entire energy system and break down emissions by the end-use sector.

“The Kuwait Energy Outlook has captured the attention of policymakers in the State of Kuwait. The first edition endorsed the formation of the newly formed Supreme Energy Committee, which will focus on developing policies to promote energy efficiency programmes and renewable energy integration, and to change consumer behaviour. LEAP and its ability to perform cost-benefit analysis is a vital tool for helping explore which energy efficiency programmes will benefit Kuwait the most.”
—Yousef Al-Abdullah, PhD, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research

Capturing the attention of policymakers

The Kuwait Energy Outlook makes the case for a new energy strategy, highlighting how a transition to a more diversified, energy-efficient and renewables-based system can help Kuwait reduce its per capita greenhouse gas emissions, which are currently among the highest in the world.

KISR reports that the Kuwait Energy Outlook “has captured the attention of policymakers”. A newly formed Supreme Energy Committee – endorsed in the report – will focus on developing policies to promote energy efficiency programmes and renewable energy integration, and to change consumer behaviour.

The report also emphasizes the need for improved data collection, recommending that Kuwait scale up its institutional capacity for data collection, planning and analysis. With more data, KISR and SEI could conduct more detailed LEAP analyses in time for the next Outlook, already scheduled for 2022.


Affordable and clean energy

How we generate and distribute energy is one of the central questions of sustainable development. SEI explores options for a clean energy future, from global policy down to household cooking and heating.

SDG7 co-benefits. SDG7 is connected to SDGs 3, 8, 11, 13 and 17.

Connecting to the SDGs

Since 2012, the growth of renewables has outpaced the growth of fossil-based energy production, yet still much greater deployment of clean energy is needed in order to meet climate and development goals. SEI’s Longrange Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) tool enables policymakers around the world to envision clean energy futures and calculate the associated costs and benefits. Moreover, LEAP now has an add-on module – the Integrated Benefits Calculator – which translates LEAP’s emissions scenarios into estimates of impacts from air pollution on human health, ecosystems and the climate. As well as delivering results for SDG 7, LEAP’s capabilities contribute to SDG 3: Good health and well-being, SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities, SDG 13: Climate action and SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth and SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals, and to building capacity in countries’ energy sectors.