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A good IDEA for energy efficiency
 
Some industry experts are predicting investments in Middle East district cooling projects to reach US $30 billion by 2016. Governments and project managers are increasingly aware of the need to employ energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. The International District Energy Association (IDEA) aims to improve global environmental quality through efficient district energy. In an exclusive interview with Utilities Middle East, Dany Safi, CEO of Tabreed, a district cooling provider, and director of IDEA, explains why this technology will be at the fore of Middle East energy investment.
 


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Why will investments in the Middle East district cooling sector increase so much over the next ten years?

The region is currently undergoing an unprecedented construction boom with investments totaling nearly US $1 trillion. The construction industry has not only grown over the period of years, but has also evolved as a sector, attracting more investments. This upward growth in construction will attract more investments for district cooling plants.

Also, the region experiences one of the longest summers, necessitating the need for prolonged usage of air cooling/conditioning. With the sector now coming into its own regionally and developers, real estate companies and consumers beginning to understand the advantages of this technology, we are optimistic about the future of the regional district cooling industry.

How do you account for the predicted demand for cooling services in the future?

According to recent reports by a leading industry body, investments in the Middle East district cooling sector will range from US $10-$30 billion (AED 36.7-110 billion) over the next ten years.

District cooling has its advantages, such as saving on power consumption, reducing costs by nearly 40% compared to conventional cooling methods, and reducing the need for individual chillers on the top of buildings. Multiple buildings can be connected to a district cooling network, which helps preserve the aesthetics of buildings and developments designed to make a bold statement.

As cities grow and governments and private sector companies look for efficient and eco-friendly technologies, district cooling is set for a good future.

 


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Which country in the Middle East consumes the most cooling energy?

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and fastest growing regional construction markets. The region experiences huge investments by both the public and private sectors.

Analysts estimate the Saudi market to be worth more than US $35 billion - making it one of the most attractive construction hubs in the region. New developments in the form of master-planned communities, office complexes, hotel developments, shopping centres, educational campuses and hospitals will increasingly lead to the demand for cost-effective cooling alternatives such as district cooling.

Why do you think development of the Middle East district cooling sector will outpace North America's by a ratio of 2:1?

The climate in the Middle East is very different from North America, especially in certain regions where summer lasts for nine months. In addition, with the fast pace of construction in most of the middle eastern countries, it is certain that all major high profile projects will tend to use district cooling as a method of cooling since it offers the best services at competitive rates and stands apart from conventional cooling methods.

Can the industry meet the growing need for refrigeration generated by construction, estimated at 10 to 20 million tonnes of refrigeration?

With the tremendous rate at which the regional construction sector is growing, it will be quite a challenge for cooling companies to keep pace with demand and generate sufficient cooling with such a load. At this scale, only prime and huge projects will be able to benefit from district cooling services, while others will have to use more conventional but less efficient cooling methods.

How is IDEA working to advance global environmental quality through efficient district energy?

IDEA works with governments and major developers to promote district cooling and efficient district energy.

Each year IDEA conducts a number of training sessions, seminars and workshops worldwide in order to achieve its goals. These include facilitating networking and exchange of information among its members, enhancing educational opportunities for district energy professionals, assisting members in marketing the benefits of district energy services and securing favorable policies, legislation and regulations for district energy.

What prompted your decision to set up in Abu Dhabi?

Tremendous growth in the energy sector has made Abu Dhabi the best place to base IDEA's regional office.

In addition, Abu Dhabi has great development plans for the future and is a well-planned and well-connected city. Until a few years back, Abu Dhabi's construction sector was dominated by oil & gas projects and independent power and water schemes. The situation has changed over the years with a host of other multi-billion dollar projects under construction.

With massive reconstruction taking place in Abu Dhabi airport, tourism destinations, new central market, development of new cities, such as Khalifa City and Mohd bin Zayed City, and with the construction and district cooling sectors complementing each other, the city holds a promising future for both.

Arabian Business
 


 

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