HOT|COOL NO.2/2016 - "District cooling in the Middle East"

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In 2010, the Saudi Council of Ministers established the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC), which promotes energy efficiency labeling for the air conditioning sector, among others. Local governments have followed suit, for example with the Riyadh City Development Council specifying that district cooling solutions are to be used for all of the city's large developments. While the Saudi market is dominated at present by cooling for commercial offices, Frost & Sullivan predicts that the retail sector will catch up, with a 30% market share by 2016. Kumar Ramesh, Frost & Sullivan's industry manager, environment and building technologies, Middle East and North Africa, commented: 'Saudi Arabia has become one of the most attractive district cooling business hubs with 26% market share compared to 74% of all the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries put together.' Tabreed's Saudi arm, Saudi Tabreed, has undertaken a 35,000 RT district cooling project at Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport, which will involve integrating a new plant with an existing facility. The project is expected to be completed in 2017, at which point the existing plant will be phased out. Saudi Tabreed also won a contract to design and build a 100,000 RT district cooling network for the office towers of Riyadh's King Abdullah financial district, including a 10-year operation and maintenance plan. Oil company Saudi Aramco hosts a combined heat and power (CHP)-based district cooling plant at its headquarters in Dhahran. The plant produces 27,000 RT and 35 MW of electricity. In December 2014, Saudi Tabreed's subsidiary the Saudi Dhahran Cooling Company awarded a $30.6 million contract to expand the Aramco district cooling plant to produce an additional 5000 RT. The new plant is expected to open in March 2016. In addition, another Saudi Tabreed subsidiary, the Central District Cooling Company, has awarded a $40.2 million contract to expand its Jabal Omar district cooling scheme in Mecca with an additional 10,000 RT. The scheme delivers 55,000 RT to 13 towers housing hotels, malls, commercial outlets and residential buildings. Saudi Tabreed said the scheme is expected to bring the buildings' power consumption down from 595 kWh to 353 kWh.

In addition, Dubai has targeted a 20% reduction in building energy use, a 30% reduction in energy demand, and 5% of renewable energy in its power mix by 2030. The city also aims to incorporate thermal energy storage into all new district cooling plants, representing at least 20% of the design capacity of the plant, by 2030. Increasing the use of TSE instead of fresh water in district cooling systems is also a stated aim, although there is no set target for this.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Credit: Jackardsiffanton/Wikimedia Commons

Dubai's district cooling capacity is set to keep pace with growing demand in the coming years. Empower reported in July that it plans to expand its district cooling transmission pipeline in the city to over 225 km by the end of this year, while Emirates District Cooling (Emicool), which operates six plants, reportedly plans to increase its capacity by over 50% to 500,000 RT to meet the expected demand from development related to Dubai's hosting of the World Expo in 2020. In the next years, a construction boom with estimated investment of $7.1 billion is expected in relation to the event, which could see up to 25 million visitors. Emicool currently provides 115,000 RT from its largest plant at Dubai Investments Park (DIP), but has said it plans to increase the plant's capacity to 250,000 RT in line with DIP's expansion plans. The firm also offers cooling services to Dubai Motor City, Dubai Sports City, Uptown Mirdiff, and the Palazzo Versace hotel and D1 Tower at Al Jaddaf. Saudi Arabia District cooling is also big business in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, growth in Saudi Arabia's district cooling market is set to jump ahead of current world leader the UAE, according to market analysis from Frost & Sullivan. A recent report values the Saudi district cooling market at $468.2 million, with an installed capacity of 1.25 million RT. The report attributes the expected growth to several main market drivers: an ongoing construction boom; the use of innovative technologies; a growing demand for energy efficiency in cooling; and government stimulus through the Saudi Industrial Development Fund.

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