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Alternative Energy Projects Co. (AEPCo.) Is A Kuwait-based Company Specializing In Renewable Energy And Decarbonization: Raed Ahmad Bkayrat, Chief Development Officer (CDO), Alternative Energy Projects Co.

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Raed Ahmad Bkayrat, Chief Development Officer (CDO), Alternative Energy Projects Co.

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Key Highlights:

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  • AEPCo has an active project pipeline and has completed projects in many markets including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (K.S.A), Oman, and Jordan, and expanding to other MENA countries as well.
  • AEPCo emphasizes on serving the private sector on both the commercial, and the industrial side, to help reduce their carbon footprint through energy efficiency, as well as solar PV systems that are contracted under equipment lease models.

Give us a brief introduction to your journey in the RE field.

I am an engineer at the core. I studied electrical engineering for my undergraduate degree at the university in Jordan and then I moved to the United States to finish my graduate studies in electrical engineering cultivating with a Ph.D. from Arizona State University with a focus on power systems, energy conversion and power electronics. My first job coming out of the university and grad school was at Siemens AG, where I started in the mining team at the US operation and then was moved to the headquarters office in Germany to lead both project and system development; providing innovative solutions for open pit mining as well as light rail and heavy rail applications. After my stint at Siemens, I managed to join a startup company in California looking at developing high-speed machines for the oil and gas industry as well as specialty applications requiring small-sized machines running at tens of thousands of RPM with innovative solutions that included (high-speed / high power) power electronics drives and magnetic bearing systems that were innovative and ahead of their competition at the time. Around that time, I wanted to start my move back to the Middle East to be closer to my roots and I managed to join the founding team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in 2009 to be part of the economic development team, where I was leading the industry collaboration program as well as technology commercialization and it is then that I had a closer interaction to the field of renewables. In Q2 2010, KA.CARE was announced in Saudi Arabia and I was working as an advisor to Dr. Khalid Al Suleiman who is leading the renewable side at KA.CARE and after that, I had several engagements advising both government and private sectors in Saudi Arabia on the topic of renewables and developing policies and programs in the field of solar energy. I was able to start the first outdoor field testing program at KAUST that provided an opportunity for solar technology providers to test their products and systems under real environmental conditions in Saudi Arabia, and we managed in those days to tackle early topics like the impact of dust on the performance of solar panels as well as the methods to mitigate dust and how to clean solar PV panels.

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In 2013 I moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to lead the business project development team for Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for First Solar, at the time when First Solar was vertically integrated from a business model standpoint covering everything from module manufacturing to project development to execution as well as operation and maintenance. At First Solar, we had a couple of early landscape projects that really ushered in the utility-scale Solar PV market in the region and these included the initial Masdar 10 megawatts solar PV plant around 2010 as well as the first phase of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai which was sized at 13 megawatts in 2013 and the first utility-scale, tracker based PV plant in the southern part of Jordan at 52.5 megawatts in 2016. These were projects that demonstrated the feasibility as well as the possibility of building and operating reliable solar PV power plants in the harsh desert weather conditions of the Middle East.

After First Solar, I started doing consulting and advisory work in 2018, working closely with both the public and the private sectors where I took on roles from being a staff adviser to the energy minister in Saudi Arabia to working on the localization program for REPDO Saudi Arabia, as well as advising startups and international companies that have interests in the solar market of the Middle East. Over the course of the last five years or so, I have been engaged with Alternative Energy Projects Company (AEPCo), where I oversee project development and overseeing the creation of partnerships in different countries across the region as well as overseeing asset management for the group. It is fair to say that at this stage of my career, I’m fully committed to clean tech and I see carbon mitigation and developing road maps to reach zero carbon targets as a very exciting area to which I am very passionate and happy to be engaged in.

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Could you please introduce our readers to the services Alternative Energy Projects Co. provides?

Alternative Energy Projects Co. (AEPCo.) is a Kuwait-based company specializing in renewable energy and decarbonization. AEPCo focuses on providing solar and clean tech solutions; acting both as a Project Developer as well as an Engineering Procurement & Construction (EPC) service provider.

Founded in 2016, AEPCo. entered the GCC solar market focusing solely on solar EPC services in Kuwait and from there AEPCo expanded into project development in the solar PV market. AEPCo was able to grow by executing numerous solar projects within Kuwait and expanding services throughout the MENA region, where AEPCo services the commercial and industrial private sectors with innovative solutions and business models to help these sectors reduce their opex while reducing their carbon footprint.

AEPCo has an active project pipeline and has completed projects in many markets including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (K.S.A), Oman, and Jordan, and expanding to other MENA countries as well. AEPCo provides its clients with services in the following areas:

IPP Development: AEPCo. has developed a flexible strategy for investment in clean energy. The company leverages a strong presence and network of the main parent company and the relationships and network of its project development team to build relationships and partnerships with well-known key players in the clean energy market within the MENA region.

Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) Services: AEPCo. provides solar EPC solutions across the MENA region. Our company offers integrated services that help to ensure that solar power plants generate efficient output over time.

How is the solar industry in Kuwait faring currently?

Kuwait has an active goal to reach 15% of clean energy in its electricity generation mix by 2030. The government has been in the process of regulating a self-consumption scheme to allow end users to install solar systems on their premises and reduce peak demand on the power generation side. Kuwait has announced programs that will include 3 GW of solar PV power plants to start their tendering process in 2023 as well as a mix of both wind and CSP technology-based projects. The renewables file is being handled with great attention in Kuwait as the country aims to announce and start building its path toward a net zero carbon target.

What is your outlook on solar development in the region in the next year?

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The Middle East will continue to have a strong solar outlook in 2023 there are at least eight gigawatts of solar projects under execution and within that additional ten gigawatts in different phases of development in the region. The region was able to achieve world records in terms of single PPA plant size and GW scale as well as world records and terms of achieved tariffs per kWh of energy. I expect that the world will be more focused on the bottom line, the return for developers as well as an emphasis on achieving a healthy moderate margin. The region’s countries have started announcing several net zero carbon targets and governments will require partnership with the private sector in order to be able to achieve such ambitious targets, esp. for mainly oil and gas countries.

I strongly believe that the region has benefited from COP 27 and COP 28 taking place in Egypt and the UAE as these events will catalyze country-level as well as regional initiatives and will help create an emphasis on achieving goals and showing tangible results on the ground.

What are Alternative Energy Projects Co’s development plans for 2023?

AEPCo has an active project pipeline in several countries in MENA, whereby we emphasize serving the private sector on both the commercial and the industrial side to help reduce their carbon footprint through energy efficiency as well as solar PV systems that are contracted under equipment lease models. Also, we aim to expand our footprint to include new countries in the MENA region and expand our partnership portfolio to include strategic local partners whom we closely work with to bring our know-how, experience and financial capabilities to help execute projects in that country or region.

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