2022 MENA District Cooling Project Conference begins with opportunities worth $15bn

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Attendees at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022
Attendees at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022 | Image Courtesy: GM Events

250+ delegates including senior government officials, project owners, developers, utility suppliers, industry experts and key stakeholders converged at Hotel Raffles Dubai, UAE, as Day 1 of the highly anticipated MENA District Cooling Projects Conference kick-started. 

The 2-day event discusses project opportunities worth $15 billion (AED55 billion), or 10 percent of the $150 billion global district cooling market.

The conference takes place at a time when the district cooling sector is expanding at a rapid pace in the UAE, GCC and the rest of the Middle East and North Africa.

Panel Discussion at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022
Panel Discussion at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022 | Image Courtesy: GM Events

The largest district cooling market in the Middle East, the UAE is growing at a faster pace driven by climate conditions and increased infrastructure spending. Many businesses in the region are adopting district cooling systems due to cost-efficiency and long-term service.

The Event 

25+ international and regional experts are gathering at this year’s event to discuss the current market outlook, opportunities and challenges in the region’s district cooling industry which is becoming more popular due to its energy efficiency.

More than 20 leading organizations from 10 countries across the globe are showcasing their products and services at the conference through an exhibition.

The Changing Landscape 

With the net-zero emission target announced by the international community by 2050, most countries in the Middle East are now racing to install new district cooling plants to reduce their carbon emissions.

Following the footsteps of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt and other countries are spearheading a large number of district cooling projects across the region, keeping the contractors and subcontractors busy for the next 15-20 years as per experts.

Suliman Al Khliwi
Suliman Al Khliwi
MD – Saudi Tabreed

“Saudi Arabia spends a large amount of energy to produce 60,000 MW electricity to power the economy, of which 60-70 percent goes into air-conditioning. However, we are now increasing the district cooling supplies to reduce our dependency on energy and make the sector more environmentally friendly and sustainable.”

The Saudi Tabreed Managing Director further added that, his organization which has a capacity to produce 326,350 refrigeration tonnes (RT) of cooling in five long-term concession areas, has recently won new concession areas to supply district cooling.

“We have delivered SR1.75 billion worth of CAPEX savings in Saudi Arabia. The district cooling market is expanding in Saudi Arabia where lots of new concession areas are coming up for all the district cooling providers. It is an exciting time for all of us,” Mr. Al Khliwi remarked.

MENA District Cooling Projects Conference is attempting to find avenues to make district cooling more sustainable and efficient. There are lots of opportunities in improving plant efficiency through energy retrofits, digitalization, modernization, technology incorporation, reducing the usage of potable water, etc.

Exhibition Tour at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022
Exhibition Tour at MENA District Cooling Projects 2022 | Image Courtesy: GM Events

District Cooling 

District cooling is, by far, the most energy-efficient way to cool buildings in arid environments.

High reliability and increased energy efficiency are a few of the paramount features offered by district cooling systems which will boost the business trends. The solution is ideal for large establishments such as airports, commercial buildings, university campuses, and residential towers. The technology relies on a centralized cooling plant, which facilitates cooling within its grid through a network of underground piping systems carrying chilled water.

This system uses 50 percent less energy than air conditioners, decreasing initial capital investment and maintenance costs. The equipment can operate smoothly for up to a 30-year span, enhancing technology adoption.

District cooling adds enormous value in terms of improving building space utilization, reducing noise pollution, reducing refrigerant use and most importantly reducing the cost of cooling substantially.

The major discussion topics at the event include; 

  • The future landscape of district cooling in the MENA region, modernization of district cooling plants
  • Overcoming the challenges in energy management of district cooling, challenges in the construction of a district cooling plant
  • Digital transformation in district cooling that includes key issues such as – the digitalization of district cooling plants to drive financial and operational competitiveness
  • Joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions in the district cooling industry and
  • lots of new project announcements and updates on existing district cooling projects etc,

Day 1 

The conference started with a demonstration on ‘The future landscape and regulatory frameworks of district cooling in the MENA region’, followed by an exclusive presentation on projects updates by Mr. Suliman Al-Khliwi, Managing Director, Saudi Tabreed.

Later, Mr. Abobaker Al Hadrami, General Manager (LCCSO)/ O&M Director, Marafeq Qatar made an exclusive presentation on projects updates.

Ms. Leila Noubough Nasr, District Cooling Regulation Senior Specialist, Department of Energy, presented the overview of the Abu Dhabi District Cooling Regulatory Framework which was followed by a speech on ‘Regulating efficient cooling’ by Mr. James Grinnell, Head of Water, Regulatory and Supervisory Bureau for Electricity and Water of Dubai (RSB).

Then, ADC talked about AI in District Cooling U.S. Chiller Services International’s presentation.

The Panel discussion on the Inaugural Day was about ‘Improving the contribution of district cooling to sustainability’, where Mr. Ezzeddine Jradi, Chief Transformation and Business Excellence Officer, Mr. Fares Ahmad, General Manager, Emaar District Cooling and Mr. Steve Lemoine, Chief Executive Officer, Dalkia were panelists.

Later in the day, Mr. Kiran Dharwadkar, National Sales Manager, Armstrong Fluid Technology talked about Plant Intelligence and Optimization Opportunities in DCPs, Mr. Ahmed Nabil El-Kasaby, Director of District Cooling Department, Allied Consultants Limited talked about Overcoming the challenges in energy management of district cooling plants followed by a Presentation by Mr. Taqeef Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Trading L.L.C and GRFN.

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