The sale of chillers in the region is on the rise, according to Atef Al Breiki, Senior Vice President – Operations and Maintenance, Tabreed. “There are two distinct contributing factors relevant to the chiller industry in the region, and both are driving the sale of new chillers,” he said. The first is the region’s population growth, and the second is government directives coupled with robust policies that are aligned with the nation’s ambitious targets ensuring ‘net zero’ carbon neutrality.
Al Breiki explained that population growth will take place with sizeable increase in the number of people relocating to the region over the coming years, and that will subsequently drive demand for cooling services. “This demand will be especially seen in the summer months, when the heat and humidity create a significantly challenging environment,” he added.
These driving challenges have given rise to more focus on sustainability. Al Breiki said, “As far as government directives are concerned, district cooling has been highlighted by the UAE government, for instance, as an essential factor in the push for sustainability and net-zero ambitions, which will, in turn, inject new life into the chiller industry.”
He estimates that roughly 70% of electrical energy in the country is used for cooling purposes, and district cooling can be up to 50% more energy efficient than alternative methods, saving millions of tons of CO2 emissions each year from energy savings alone. “As climate awareness grows, we anticipate further uptake of district cooling, thus increasing chiller sales over the coming years,” he said.
Interestingly, the move from individual air-cooled chillers to central water-cooled systems has been hugely impactful when it comes to increasing efficiency and, thereby, reducing energy
consumption, he said. “Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) technology applied to chiller motors has helped optimise operational efficiency, and other innovations, such as magnetic bearing technology, are also helping to reduce power consumption,” Al Breiki said, adding that the breakthrough in introducing magnetic bearing technology allows the compressor to operate without oil for lubrication, which reduces energy losses due to friction and increases
heat transfer efficiency of the chiller, because no oil enters the evaporator or the condenser. All of these, he said, represent positive progress for the balance sheets of Tabreed’s customers and, more importantly, for the environment by consuming less energy and, as a result, reducing carbon emissions.With a sustainable forecast, Al Breiki optimistically noted, we are already seeing governments in the GCC region legislating in favour of energy-efficient infrastructure, making it a condition of planning approval to ensure connection to district cooling networks, if they exist. “This is only going to increase over time, as the environmental benefits of district cooling – of which there are many – become more widely recognised,” he said.
Pointing to another trend, Al Breiki said that over the next few years, there will be increase in domestic demand from homeowners and tenants, who will actively seek accommodation that utilises district cooling, as a matter of principle.