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En Route For A Pas De Deux

French firms must market to the Middle East the EU-sanctioned standards of HVAC equipment, to take advantage of the region’s growing industry

| | Mar 15, 2010 | 12:09 pm
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French firms must market to the Middle East the EU-sanctioned standards of HVAC equipment, to take advantage of the region’s growing industry.

Should French companies be interested in tapping the HVAC&R industry in the Middle East, they had better start participating in various exhibitions held in the Gulf. These firms must present their latest products and services to concerned consultants, contractors and clients in the Gulf, wherein rapidly growing economies offer tremendous potential for foreign companies interested in setting up shop in the region or striking partnerships with their domestic and regional counterparts.

The HVAC&R industry in France doesn’t hold much influence over the markets across the Gulf Arab states, which are familiar with the US and British standards with regard to equipment and components related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. French companies must also work to market to the region industry standards sanctioned by the European Union, in order to facilitate the importation of their products into the region.

“To improve their influence they shall present their products and the advancement they have contributed to this industry,” says Rami Al Khalil, the Abu Dhabi-based sales manager of Morex, a full-service representative company for HVAC, firefighting products and industrial equipment. But he notes that these products are most likely not rated or manufactured according to specifications imposed by the hot climes in the Gulf and the wider Middle East region. He remarks, “This will create difficulty in selecting equipment complying with the required design and weather conditions.”

He and Frank van Leemput, the area sales manager of Baltimore Aircoil Gulf, say HVAC&R companies and professionals in the region and their counterparts in France may also explore chances for technology transfer through industrial bodies. Al Khalil remarks, “Technology transfer shall be between French manufacturers and formal industrial bodies and all the parties involved in the HVAC&R industry ….”

There are not a noticeable number of French companies involved in the Gulf’s HVAC&R industry, van Leemput says. But inasmuch as any region outside Europe now has a bigger potential for HVAC&R business, it would be in the best interests of companies in France and other parts of Europe to explore the Gulf market, particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

“These countries are the strongest in economy in the Gulf area, besides the various development projects they have planned in the coming 20 years,” Al Khalil says. The Gulf countries and the whole Middle East will be needing millions of tonnes of refrigeration for their district cooling systems for many years.

French companies, for instance, may use their expertise on anti-LD (legionnaires’ disease) in the manufacture and installation of cooling towers, the heat-removal devices that send process-heat waste into the atmosphere. The common applications of these devices include cooling the circulating water used in oil refineries, chemical plants, power stations and building-cooling systems.

“Due to the heavy anti-LD legislation in France, French companies are assumed to have gained excellent expertise in this area,” says Dubai-based van Leemput, whose US-headquartered company manufactures heat transfer and ice thermal storage products. LD is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia brought about by human inhalation of bacteria in aerosols or water droplets. France adheres to a code of practice, called L8, to control the spread of LD. This code covers the manufacture and installation of cooling towers and other related equipment and components.

Major French companies engaged in power and energy are also flexing their resources to gain a larger market share and a better foothold in the international market. Consider the public megaconglomerate, Areva, for instance, which recently acquired the solar thermal startup Ausria, for an unknown amount. Ausria’s solar technology stores part of the heat generated by the sun during the day, so that this can keep producing electricity even when the sun doesn’t shine.

“I see this as a good sign for the capitalintensive solar thermal market,” says Michael Graham Richard, a writer based in Ottawa, in February. “Projections have it growing at around 20% per year for the next decade, but depending on a few things (price of oil, carbon taxes, major climate events and new scientific discoveries), solar could potentially expand even faster than that (or slower, if we’re unlucky).”

Affected by the economic downturn, the solar thermal market expects a smaller growth rate in the next few years. But since the world is leaning towards renewable energies, the market for solar thermal continues to grow, according to BSRIA, a UK-based construction and building services consultancy. The normally favoured distribution channel in the European market is through installers and plumbers, except for the UK, Greece, Germany and France, where it is done through wholesalers.

France is also home to a number of trade shows in heating and airconditioning – in which firms and professionals in the Gulf could participate and visit, in order the learn more what that European country could offer to the region’s HVAC&R industry. Take, for instance, the Interclima + Elec Home & Building and the Enéo events. A biennial international exhibition in Paris, Interclima is dedicated to heating, refrigeration, air-conditioning and sanitary wares, while Enéo focuses on energy, climate control and water management.

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