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KSA district cooling market set to surge

GCC's DC market is expected to earn revenues close to $1.7bn in 2013

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KSA's DC market is expected to overtake the UAE market by 2014
KSA's DC market is expected to overtake the UAE market by 2014

 Saudi Arabia has become one of the most attractive district cooling business hubs with 26 per cent market share compared to 74 per cent of the all the other GCC countries put together, Frost & Sullivan said in a recent study.

"The district cooling market in the KSA is expected to overtake the UAE district cooling market by 2014 due to an impressive project pipeline and increasing awareness about district cooling solutions", said Kumar Ramesh, industry manager, environment and building technologies, Middle East and North Africa, Frost & Sullivan.

The district cooling market in the GCC is expected to earn revenues close to US1.7bn billion in 2013. A strong technology footprint and addition of new end users like airports, religious sites, and sports and recreational facilities open up opportunities for integrated district cooling systems. With the addition of new technologies and systems such as smart metres, advanced plant controls and sea water usage, the market is trying to be on par with international standards and practices.

The district cooling market is moving towards de-centralisation, as an effect of increasing demand from small scale developments requiring 5,000 to 25, 000 Tonnage Rate (TR) of cooling.

Chiller manufacturers have introduced 6,000 TR capacity chillers, especially for district cooling plants in the region to target small projects in residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

The KSA's district cooling market is mainly dominated by commercial offices. However, retail sector would soon catch up with a forecast of 30 per cent market share by 2016.

Additionally, other important end-user segments are airports, religious sites, oil and gas industry and educational institutions.

Specific provinces like Mecca are also projected to become a hub for the district cooling industry due to developments in commercial, educational and utilities sectors. The Mecca construction industry is likely to take off in a big way by 2017 due to increased usage in residential and industrial sites. As per a Frost & Sullivan study, the utilities and commercial construction markets saw 24 per cent and 11 per cent usage of District Cooling in the year 2012.

Desalination costs due to water cooled chillers comprise 24 per cent of the cost factors for District Cooling plants in the KSA. Hence, sustainable processes like TSE (Treated Sewage Effluent) and sea water are now being explored by District Cooling industry. Usage of sea water can cause cost benefit of up to US$4mn in a year.

"Pilot projects are being currently being executed to explore feasibility of smart metre system. To maximise efficiency, district cooling companies in the UAE are also tying up with energy meter manufacturing companies, thus ensuring controversy free billing procedures along with add on services that smart metering offers such as remote reading, cash registers and historical data.

The KSA is expected to embrace innovative technologies like plant control to monitor and supervise central plant operations, smart meters, and sea water sourcing to achieve increased plant efficiency. This is expected to make the KSA a positive market for district cooling and achieve a higher penetration over conventional air conditioning systems", concluded Ramesh.

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