In light of the urban expansion and the major developments in the construction sector, especially in the GCC, the gradual rise in temperature has become a challenge during the last hundred to two hundred years due to greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide and many other types of gases. As a result, the United Nations (UN) began to adopt and promote a culture of sustainable development to preserve the environment, through a plan for a better and more sustainable future for all; aimed at combating climate change and environmental degradation by 2030.
Consequently, Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), the world's largest district cooling services provider, plays a major role in adopting district cooling systems locally and internationally.
According to the UN, Empower is a key supporter of district cooling solutions, which is an ideal solution to achieve its goals. District cooling contributes to achieving high energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and is one of the energy efficiency accelerators. District cooling systems use 50% less energy compared to conventional cooling systems, contributing to a 50% reduction in energy consumption.
With the ever-increasing number of real estate projects in the UAE, it has become essential to provide environmentally friendly and sustainable, high quality district cooling systems. This supports the UAE's strategy to become the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world, and the UAE Vision 2021 to become one of the best countries in the world by 2021. So what is district cooling?
District cooling system is based on the distribution of chilled water produced at a central plant and transferred to buildings and facilities through a network of pipes to the end user directly.
According to the UN Report on Sustainable Development 2018, district cooling systems and technologies, which have become widely used in the UAE, are helping reduce the amount of energy used for cooling by around 50%, contributing to the region's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
Smart and safe cooling
District cooling systems are the safest option; they rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict and process errors. This is because Empower adopts cooling systems that produce chilled water and stores it using Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology, by recycling water for its operations. This contributes to a 50% reduction in energy consumption.
District cooling systems mainly work to purify and de-humidify chilled air, as they do not require airflow to ventilate to save energy; thus, reducing air exposure to external pollutants.
Furthermore, constant air circulation in district cooling systems allows the equal distribution of chilled air, which helps to eliminate cold areas that homeowners usually experience with conventional cooling systems, one of the causes of bacterial growth.
Advantages of district cooling
District cooling systems are cheaper and 50% more energy-efficient than conventional cooling systems. This reduces cost on property and project owners.
In terms of the overall aesthetic appearance of the building, district cooling saves more space than conventional cooling systems, hence, utilising this space for other operations.
District cooling systems are also quiet, as they do not require the installation of a noisy outdoor air condenser. In addition, they last for approximately 24 to 30 years, compared to conventional cooling systems, which range from 13 to 15 years.
Advanced smart systems
Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower, stressed that district cooling systems rely heavily on a safe and environmentally-friendly recycling process using chilled water.
“Empower uses AI systems based on state-of-the-art technology in the district cooling sector, which have been created in Empower’s laboratories. This reduces the annual operating costs of companies, improves the efficiency of installations,,” added Bin Shafar.
“Empower strives to develop and create exceptional projects and programmes that contribute to avoiding risks and combating pollution and climate change. We work to spread awareness on advanced, environmentally-friendly district cooling systems that benefit humanity,” noted Bin Shafar.
Strategies that support district cooling
The UAE’s wise leadership believes in the importance of creating an environmentally-friendly society, to maintain a safe and healthy environment for future generations. This is reflected in its commitment to adopt strategies that address the challenges of climate change, which is a real obstacle to growth and prosperity.
Some of the main strategies that support this approach are the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which seeks to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix to 50%, the National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050, and the long-term national initiative to build a green economy in the UAE under the slogan ‘A green economy for sustainable development’, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which lead the UAE to become pioneer in the field of the new green economy globally.
Sustainability has become a prominent culture in the UAE, involving all segments of society in the transformation towards to a green economy. This is based on energy conservation and preservation of natural resources, through the implementation of national strategies, including the UAE Centennial 2071, the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the UAE Vision 2021, and the Dubai Plan 2021, which aims to establish Dubai as a smart and sustainable city, whose environmental elements are clean, healthy, and sustainable.
More than 1 million RT
Empower provides district cooling services to more than 1,090 buildings, catering to more than 100,000 customers. The company operates more than 1.43 Million Refrigeration Tons (RT), providing environmentally friendly district cooling services to large-scale real estate developments, such as Bluewaters, Jumeirah Group, Business Bay, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai International Financial Centre, Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Ibn Battuta Mall, Discovery Gardens, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai World Trade Centre Residences and Dubai Design District, International Media Production Zone and others.