No chill in the cooling industry
The district cooling industry in Qatar is looking to build on several years of robust growth with a wave of fresh investment.
District cooling entails the production and circulation of chilled water to multiple buildings through a network of insulated underground pipes. Water is pumped from a central cooling plant to building connections, known as energy transfer stations, which is then used by the building's climate control system to lower temperatures.
Regarded as more energy efficient than conventional air conditioning, district cooling has become a key component of the state's drive to reduce energy consumption in line with Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030, the country's strategic development plan.
The industry's cooling capacity - measured in tonnes of refrigeration (TR) – has expanded significantly in recent years, rising from 25,700 TR in 2007 to around 485,000 TR last year, according to the Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA). The sector's rapid expansion is due in part to the fact that district cooling is a relative newcomer to Qatar.
The country's largest operator, Qatar Cool, was established in 2003 and now operates three plants with a combined capacity of 197,000 TR. Two of its facilities serve the West Bay district, producing a combined 67,000 TR, while the third, which caters to The Pearl- Qatar district, has a capacity of 130,000 TR, making it the largest plant of its kind in the world. Additionally, the company is building a fourth plant, also located in the West Bay district, which is expected to add another 40,000 TR of cooling capacity upon completion.
“Due to the increased demand we have seen in West Bay, we are constructing our third plant in the same district, with the first phase expected to be completed early next year and full completion of the plant scheduled for the end of 2016,” Yasser Salah Al Jaidah, CEO of Qatar Cool, told OBG.
A second operator, Marafeq Qatar, entered the market in 2012 and now runs a 5,000-TR plant in Lusail City, with the facility expected to increase its capacity to 300,000 TR by 2022. The company also operates a 37,000-TR capacity plant that will serve the 6,000 units of the Barwa City development north of Doha, scheduled for completion later this year.