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11 February 2009

Cooling rethink

Mott MacDonald is delivering new cooling technologies to help Gulf residents reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

With summer temperatures reaching the upper 40s Celsius the UAR is heavily reliant on comfort cooling. Unsurprisingly, the Emirates have one of the largest per capita energy requirements in the world. Clients are increasingly conscious of the need to reduce energy consumption, though. A number of innovations in cooling technology are helping.

Mott MacDonald has been involved in projects on the nearly completed Palm Jumeirah and is currently designing cooling systems for the vastly bigger Palm Deira and Dubai Waterfront. These islands offer a blank canvas for development of new approaches to cooling. Where in the past cooling has mainly provided chillier units fitted to individual buildings, district cooling is now gaining ground.

District cooling involves the centralised production of chilled water, which is distributed via underground pipelines to all buildings in a neighbourhood. Water is circulated at 4-5°C for less. Heat from buildings is transferred into the district cooling system by heat exchangers. “The economy of scale combined with more efficient cooling technologies make district cooling 30-40% less energy hungry than traditional air cooled systems,” says Mott MacDonald technical director Greg Cox.

District cooling is being integrated alongside other vital infrastructure such as roads, light rail, power, water and sanitation at conceptual design stage in development of the Waterfront and Deira islands. “We’re providing initial assessment of cooling loads proposals for the number and location of district cooling plans and location of service corridors for chilled water distribution.”

On the first phase of Palm Deira, five 200MW district cooling plants will be used to deliver a colossal 1GW of cooling. The first island on the Waterfront project will have two plants providing 250MW of cooling each.

To further reduce the power demand and associated carbon emissions of cooling, thermal storage is gaining popularity, says Greg. At its simplest this is formed of large insulated tanks that store chilled water. These thermal reservoirs help meet peak demand for cooling without having to increase chillier capacity. The saving in installed plant is up to 20%. Energy efficiency is improved by using ‘trigeneration’ plant, combining heat, power and cooling.
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