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District cooling, an eco-friendly yet efficient alternative to the traditional air-conditioning system, is prevalent in several residential and commercial developments in the region. Under this system, there exists a central plant which utilizes fuel such as coal, oil or natural gas to produce chilled water which is then distributed to buildings via an underground insulated network of pipes in order to facilitate cooling. A single plant has the capacity to meet the energy demands of a cluster of buildings.
Research has shown that for every ton of cooling, a district cooling plant uses up to 0.95 kilowatts of electricity as compared to an air-conditioning unit which uses 1.6 kilowatts. Hence, its energy-saving potential is significant without a doubt. This lower energy consumption translates to lower CO2 emissions thus making it environment-friendly as well.
Additionally, it deploys good-quality industrial equipment which requires a replacement only once in 30 years. The unit also takes into account any seasonal fluctuations in demand via thermal storage whereby it can store up to 30% of its output as chilled water to be used only later.
However, residents who have experienced this system first-hand claim that it comes with its own set of flaws. To begin with, the cooling system relies heavily on the consumption of water, which is limited in the region. Amid concerns of shortage of water supply in the future, the sustainability of this concept is a big question mark. Secondly, it has been established that the massive cooling units are not always utilized to their optimum capacity, thus resulting in heftier bills for the consumers as well as financial implications for the district cooling providers. Lastly, the general cooling effect is not the same as that of a stand-alone air-conditioning unit with users complaining that it takes much longer to cool a small square feet of area.
It is a known fact that both district cooling and the traditional, stand-alone air-conditioning unit have their pros and cons. However, with the advancement of technology, all that a consumer requires is a system that is efficient and affordable at the same time.
• The efficient cooling of homes and offices is a top priority in this region
• A district cooling system produces chilled water to be distributed to buildings
• District cooling uses water for cooling making it more environment-friendly
Click on Green light for more ecoproject in UAE
Source: Priyanka Wade, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer