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Tue 7 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Keeping cool in the Middle East

In a region where summer temperatures peak at well over 40°C, district cooling has emerged as the most viable cooling solution in the Middle East. While the regional district cooling market comprises 1,8 million tons of refrigeration (TR) at present, Frost & Sullivan states that, by 2013, the regional market is expected to have an additional 4,5 million TR, contributed mainly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In a region where summer temperatures peak at well over 40°C, district cooling has emerged as the most viable cooling solution in the Middle East. While the regional district cooling market comprises 1,8 million tons of refrigeration (TR) at present, Frost & Sullivan states that, by 2013, the regional market is expected to have an additional 4,5 million TR, contributed mainly by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Thus it is clear that the market is huge – and getting bigger. Therein lay its greatest dilemma, as electricity accounts for about 50% to 60% of the total production cost of district cooling. It also requires copious quantities of water, which is as precious a resource as electricity.

Suppliers of chiller plants would like to see greater cooling loads and hence more equipment entering the market, but plant optimisation and energy efficiency are the new buzzwords. Developers themselves, who shoulder the responsibility for a lot of essential infrastructure, are being faced with something of a paradigm shift as district cooling itself becomes an essential part of their future business strategies for sustained growth in the region.

This makes for an exciting and dynamic market, where economic, environmental and technological factors all compete for attention. While it is clear that there is no easily achievable solution to the region’s resource-scarcity issues, it is equally clear that the decisions being taken today by developers and government leaders alike will shape the future for many generations to come.

Gerhard Hope is the editor of Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Middle East.

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