RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, (AP) – Blistering summer temperatures coupled with a sandstorm caused power failures on Monday in western Saudi Arabia, as the region suffered from a debilitating heat wave.
The skyrocketing demand for demand for electricity to power air conditioners forced eight power turbines to go off line, causing several Saudi cities to lose their power, said the Saudi Electricity Company.
“Blackouts are taking place this summer because of an increase in the electrical loads,” company official Ahmed al-Dubekhi said in a recent statement.
Speaking before the turbine failures, he maintained that the company was prepared for the spikes in demand.
Temperatures in Saudi Arabia reached 124 degrees (50 degrees Celsius), several degrees above average. Energy shortages often happen between May and September during the searing Gulf summers.
“Such blackouts are not uncommon for the region, which has been suffering and will continue to suffer over the next couple years in the summer due to their inability to meet their electricity demands,” said Samuel Ciszuk, IHS Global Insight Middle East Energy analyst.
While Saudi Arabia has struggled to increase its electrical capacity, its situation is not as tough as that of neighboring Iraq and Kuwait.
Kuwait, for example, often suffers daily blackouts in the summer months.
Last week, temperatures of up to 126 degrees (52 Celsius) pushed power stations in Kuwait to 99 percent of their production capacity of around 11,000 megawatts.
On Sunday, Kuwait’s parliament recommended to cut the working day for public sector employees in order to conserve energy. A parliament discussion of the country’s power problems is slated for next week.
Soaring temperatures and lengthy power outages in Iraq have resulted in protests in two southern cities and the resignation of the electricity minister.