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And When The Dust Settles …

I have said this ad nauseam, but when the property market was racing at Shinkansen speed and when district cooling occupied lavish mind space, from Dubai to Doha and from Manama to Cairo

| | May 15, 2010 | 9:43 am
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B Surendar

B Surendar

I have said this ad nauseam, but when the property market was racing at Shinkansen speed and when district cooling occupied lavish mind space, from Dubai to Doha and from Manama to Cairo, the odd lament about the need for best practices was lost in the noise, though in all fairness, it must be added that the International District Energy Association (IDEA) did release a Best Practice Guide for the industry at its Third International District Cooling Conference and Trade Show, in 2008 in Dubai. What was also lost in the melee was a call for better treatment of the end-user, who after all, plays such a critical role in building a positive perception towards district cooling.

The common excuse was, “Yes the end-user is important, but one needs to prioritise, considering there are a gadzillion opportunities to erect district cooling plants and to lower more and more pipes into trenches.” The excuse had the tacit approval of many that were ever so eager to capitalise on the momentum.

Today, the mood could not be more different. Starting from end-2008, when Lehman became a menacing symbol of the meltdown, to now, when there is considerable uncertainty engendered by floundering Greece and a handful of Euro-zone nations, district cooling has taken a pounding, the intensity of which has arguably intensified by the day. The viability of district cooling as a financial model itself has come for the severest test. While the challenge needs to be addressed, we ought not to lose sight of the original but unaddressed challenge – of satisfying the end-user, whose number, in recent times, has been dwindling. After all, a happy and convinced end-user is akin to an insurance, once the economy recovers in the region, and district cooling is once again in favour.

There could be no better time than now to appease the end-user, through a sensible and sustainable metering and billing regimen. There is an urgent need to increase the scope for the customer to save on his district cooling cost, through better allocation. In other words, there is a need for obligations to allocate the cost on consumption basis, fully backed by rules and regulations laid down by the Government.

It is imperative to define cooling charges, the way they ought to be defined. That way, there is an incentive for the end-user to save and, thereby, realise the oft-touted potential of district cooling. Then, once the dust settles, district cooling will have one less front to confront with as it begins the slow and onerous task of regaining lost ground.

B Surendar


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