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


By Peter Sonne, Senior Advisor, Sweco

By state-of-the art district heating and environmental standards we normally think of preinsulated pipes in the ground, automatic control systems, and switching from dusty coal to CHP based on more clean fuels. But the technical and financial conditions have turned these assumptions upside down. In the tundra with permafrost it is impossible to lay pipes in the ground. The soil (permafrost) is constantly on the move. Anything put down in the ground runs a serious risk of being destroyed - the same problem with pipes for fresh water. They cannot be laid in the ground and would soon freeze from the same reason. Neither can the pipes be installed above ground, as the water will soon freeze during the long winter. The fuel situation is also a chal lenge considering the environmental impact requirements. For a long time, the fuel oil has been more expensive compared to coal. Fuel oil must be supplied over long distances whereas coal is a local commodity. So in order to reduce the cost of heat, a fuel switch to coal was decided. By constructing larger boiler plants based on coal, the environmental requirements can be met by the large-scale production. Of course, the boiler plants need additional flue gas cleaning systems, which are also part of the project. By installing large boiler plants, the network subsequently also needs to be bigger, with more consumers connected. As a concept for the projects, transmission systems were installed, connecting all the existing smaller networks with the worn-out boiler plants. The worn-out boiler plants are dismantled and the existing smaller network are insulated.

Most people and especially women likes to decorate themselves with gold and diamonds. Jewelries are important issues of modern living. But where do these come from? We know that many diamonds are found and developed in South Africa. Brazil and Australia also have their production industry. But the fact that a major part comes from difficult approachable areas in Siberia is a secret to many people. With the extreme climate conditions, with temperatures down to below -60°C and permafrost, extraction of the precious materials is undertaken under huge difficulties, but by people who have decided to live and work under these conditions. The importance of the industry in Siberia has always been recognized by the leaders in Moscow, and the income appreciated. For decades, people were forced to stay and work in these areas, but nowadays most people live and work there voluntarily. Because of the sparse forest growth; most wood for house construction is imported from southern regions. Early on, the administration in these villages realized that centralized boiler plants were to prefer instead of individual stoves. The existing boiler plants and heating systems in the villages normally cover a handful of houses. The boilers are operated on either coal or fuel oil. In general, all the installations are worn out and the boilers quite inefficient. Poor pipe insulation is also a big problem everywhere. About ten years ago, the government of the Sakha region approached EBRD in London, and a project for rehabilitation of heating systems in a number of the villages in the region of Sakha was agreed on for joint financing with the administration. The project would cover about 30 sites in the region, of various size. The rehabilitation projects should meet state-of-the-art district heating and environmental standards.

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