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‘SE Asian countries need an estimated USD 11bn by 2020 to meet national targets’

Pierre Cheyron, CEO of ENGIE Services Asia-Pacific, speaks exclusively with Hannah Jo Uy on how the company’s Northgate project in the Philippines is set to trigger greater penetration of District Cooling in the country and other densely populated urban areas in countries across Southeast Asia. Excerpts…

| | Jan 20, 2018 | 11:40 am
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Could you comment on the feasibility of District Cooling for dense urban areas across Southeast Asia?
In tropical Southeast Asia, cities are looking for alternative innovative ways to meet growing energy demands, due to rapid urbanisation. While District Cooling has been around for more than 50 years, it is more recent that cities in the region are deploying such sustainable technologies, as a means of heating and cooling buildings to reduce energy use and to cut cost and carbon emissions.

District Cooling systems allow electricity and power to be effectively managed, promoting a way to address the ever-increasing demand for energy and to counterbalance the impact of global warming. In the long run, District Cooling systems pave the way for the most cost-efficient cooling option due to the demand for cool air in dense urban areas.

Could you comment on the decision to partner with Filinvest land in the Northgate District Cooling System project? Why does the company believe that the time is ripe to introduce District Cooling at such a massive scale in the Philippines?
ENGIE is committed to the Philippines’ sustainable economic growth through contributing its expertise in clean and renewable energy to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel, reduce energy-related environmental impact and save energy through energy-efficiency projects.

Through its partnership with Filinvest in building the Northgate District Cooling System (DCS), ENGIE is supporting the nation’s economic growth through clean and renewable energy solutions. As such, District Cooling systems are a major component of the decarbonisation strategy. ENGIE aims to replicate its global industry leadership position in the Philippines through the Northgate DCS by contributing to the nation’s clean energy transition through developing energy efficiency and District Cooling solutions to help commercial and industrial customers reduce energy demand and optimise energy-efficiency levels; reducing electricity cost and pollution by providing affordable, renewable and clean electricity-generating facilities through technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy and through providing access to energy for all by developing Distributed Energy solutions in rural communities and islands not connected to the national grid.

Do you believe that the Northgate project will signal a move towards greater penetration of District Cooling across the country? If so, for what sectors, in particular? Will this be a preferred option in residential and commercial buildings, perhaps even across village and housing projects?
ENGIE’s goal is to be a forerunner in the energy transition, based on a 3D strategy – decarbonise the energy mix, decentralise energy production and digitalise energy solutions. As the Group is now more than halfway through the three-year transition, the capital generated by the decarbonisation programme is re-invested in priority countries with high-growth potential, like the Philippines.

It is estimated that USD 11 billion of investment in end-use efficiency is needed by Southeast Asian countries by 2020 to meet their national targets for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions. District Energy systems will be a key solution for smart cities and for high-end and mission-critical assets, such as airports, shopping complexes and industrial parks.

We believe that this first project in the Philippines will trigger a much greater deployment of District Cooling systems in the nation, primarily in dense areas with high cooling needs, such as airports, business parks, commercial buildings, and shopping and entertainment complexes.

What are the unique factors you take into consideration when it comes to designing a District Cooling system suitable for the country’s ambient temperatures?
When designing District Cooling systems, we examine the building in its initial stages to map out dimensions, cooling load estimates and the function of the building. For a District Cooling system to be successful, all components must function cohesively. All these play a part in the mapping out of the overall design of the system to understand the functioning of the entire system before going into further plans.

In tropical climates, designing a District Cooling system requires specific precautions and parameters, which we have experience with, based on our existing networks in Malaysia and the Middle East, where ENGIE co-owns Tabreed, the largest District Cooling systems operator in the world.

Does the project signal a more proactive move on the part of ENGIE to penetrate Southeast Asia?
At ENGIE, our ambition for Northgate DCS is to be a model for dense urban areas in Southeast Asia and showcase how District Energy solutions can help cities optimise energy supply, reduce electricity consumption, support economic development and lower environment impact.

We also aim to build on the existing District Cooling projects across Asia Pacific, namely in Malaysia and New Zealand.

Malaysia has several District Cooling systems, including its largest one in Cyberjaya, a town with a science park in the western coastal state of Selangor. The Megajana District Cooling System was built by ENGIE and Malaysia’s Pendinginan Megajana Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of tech hub enabler, Cyberview Sdn Bhd. The system’s second District Cooling plant was completed in 2012 and has helped the town to reap the equivalent of 8.2 gigawatt hours in electricity savings and eliminate 4,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. In March 2017, an expansion of CyberJaya’s District Cooling system was announced, with an expectation of additional five per cent energy-efficiency gain, which equates to a reduction of 2.3 GW hours equivalent of power consumption or 1,160 tonnes of CO2 per year.

In New Zealand, ENGIE – formerly Cofely Australia – and Pioneer formed a joint venture company, Christchurch District Energy Company (CDEC) to build, acquire, own and operate assets for the supply of thermal energy. CDEC will provide centralised heating and cooling system, utilising a natural aquifer in a major development in central Christchurch for Ngāi Tahu Property.

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