Sanela Habbab, chief operating officer, Emicool, told MEP Middle East that the greatest challenge facing the district cooling industry is the end users' current untrue perception on district cooling services in Dubai.

Habbab said: “Overall, district cooling is largely considered as unfair and a very expensive air-conditioning solution, owing to master developers who have taken advantage of the sector without passing on a proportional share to the end users. In contrast, Taqati (the dedicated program management office for the Dubai Demand Side Management (DSM)) has taken serious actions in repairing the current unjust image of district cooling that Emicool actively supports in all aspects.”

She says that the success of district cooling design and construction directly depends on suitable the optimisation of OPEX and CAPEX for district cooling. However, there are always challenges that a project must meet, and thus compromises must be made. She said that either there is limitation in space that does not allow for thermal energy storage, thereby increasing the CAPEX and OPEX, or limitation in height that increases the CAPEX.

Habbab added: “District cooling certainly requires government support to achieve its full potential. The government has set plans to address structural issues that made the market against district cooling. The regulations will address the district cooling service providers/operators' and energy efficiencies that are considered as major areas of improvement. However, we strongly believe that the involvement of the end users in energy awareness as global concern will further enhance energy conservation and will shift the population to a higher level of attentiveness that will not act with short-sighted objectives. Instead, the energy-efficient solution known as district cooling will be welcomed more than any other less efficient air-conditioning system.”

READ: Emicool to supply district cooling at Mirdif Hills

Habbab's views will appear in the 1207 issue of MEP Middle East's special report on district cooling, which will be out on the first week of July 2017.