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‘Pandemic has ushered in new customer needs’

Masaaki Miyatake, Chairman and President, Daikin MEA, in an exclusive interview he gave to Surendar Balakrishnan of Climate Control Middle East, speaks of how the company is rapidly leveraging its solutions to continuously evolve with market requirements. Excerpts from the interview…

| | Jun 17, 2021 | 3:21 pm
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At a corporate level, what changes has the pandemic forced upon Daikin in the way you manufacture and install HVAC equipment? As a corporate, has your thinking veered towards giving even more importance to indoor air quality?

The pandemic has ushered in new customer needs, prompting us to leverage and innovate our solutions rapidly to meet and continuously evolve with their requirements. We have made the necessary adjustments in our processes and procedures to comply with the needs of the times without losing sight of the goals enshrined in our Environmental Vision 2050. Putting even greater emphasis on indoor air quality and energy efficiency are part and parcel of the changes we have deployed since the pandemic began, seeing that the trend is accelerating towards this path, as people spend more time inside their homes.

Masaaki Miyatake

As the situation is still changing, Daikin will adapt accordingly to the changes. However, we remain keen on promoting energy-efficient air conditioners and refrigerants. This remains consistent and highlights our commitment to helping reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming.

It also complements our balanced approach to increasing business growth while contributing to the global environmental efforts, especially those addressing climate change.

Given that some nations have submitted a new set of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in line with the Paris Agreement, what does the move mean to equipment manufacturers like Daikin?

The NDCs inspire us at Daikin to further ramp up our initiatives to help mitigate the effects of climate change through significant carbon emission reduction. Our approach to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is evident in our entire product lifecycle, including production, and in our use of energy management solutions to carry out efficient building operations.

Across our industry, the carbon emission reduction targets of the Paris Agreement, followed by the Kigali Amendment, have set the cooling sector development pathway towards higher energy efficiency systems and lower global warming potential refrigerants. Daikin has integrated this pathway into its long-term business strategy to provide society with safe and healthy air environments with the lowest impact on the environment.

How is Daikin supporting the GCC region countries, in particular, in lowering direct and indirect emissions?

Daikin’s vision and actions are aligned with the GCC region’s national targets. They support the national policies via collaboration with market stakeholders.

Several field test projects were conducted in collaboration with the regulation authorities and academia in the GCC region to measure the impact of high energy efficiency cooling systems on the consumer energy cost, the power sector demand, and the warming reduction potential on the environment. We believe that such collaborative projects support the formulation of effective energy efficiency policies to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners in buildings.

It is often said that chiller manufacturers ignore refrigerating efficiency. What is the case with Daikin?

Chillers consumes over 65% energy in a building’s air conditioning system, and a responsible chiller manufacturer should not be ignoring the efficiency/COP of a chiller. At the same time, focus should not only be on full-load COPs, as chillers operate 99% of the time at off-design/part-load conditions. To help the end users realise maximum energy savings, Daikin has always been at the forefront of improving chiller COPs with emphasis not only on full-load but also on part-load and off design conditions.

This is done by taking a holistic view of the design and selection of each component of the chiller, as well as incorporating innovative technologies, such as refrigerant-cooled inverter and the new compressor geometry. In addition, we need to maintain the highest level of reliability along with premium efficiency by ensuring local peculiarities, such as high ambient temperatures and corrosive environment.

What progress are you able to share with readers of Climate Control Middle East on VRF-related innovations? Have you been able to make them appealing even for high-rises, thus increasing the scope of their deployment?

VRV/VRF systems are now established as a solution category on their own, similar to DX systems, chilled water systems or district cooling systems. It has taken a decade for the efforts to boost the popularity of VRV/VRF systems. Led by Daikin, these efforts have created change in the market. VRV/ VRF systems are now considered the first choice amongst all HVAC solutions for residential applications, where energy efficiency, higher indoor air quality and low noise, along with smart home automation, have become the minimum requirements. Daikin has carried out multiple developments for large number of projects, including those involving more than 1,000 villas.

For buildings, we are seeing a great acceptability of VRV/VRF systems, where earlier DX or chilled water systems were only accepted. The change is due to multiple buildings that are already in operation, saving the end-user 30-40% in energy bills and lowering the capital costs for developers. We are glad to share some of the key landmarks that we have been involved in.

One is a 50-storey tower in Sharjah, which is in the last phase of completion with Daikin air-cooled VRV systems, and another is the region’s first water-cooled VRV hotel application (G+44 floors) in Qatar, which is already commissioned. The UAE leads the change, and now the industry is growing from strength to strength in wider GCC region areas of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, where we are seeing a lot of tall building designs using VRV/VRF as the technology of choice for the residential apartments.

The pandemic has forced the world to revisit the minimum number of fresh air changes, amongst other measures to reduce the micro-flora count in the built environment. How can we increase this without increasing energy consumption? Have you made any headway into solving this conundrum?

For existing buildings, where the fresh air flow is fixed, the best solution is to add an in-room air filtration device, with multiple filtration stages, to provide equivalent outdoor air change per hour (ACH). To address this, Daikin has introduced two air purifiers. The first one is with Electrostatic HEPA filter and Streamer Technology. The second is an in-room compact air filtration device manufactured in our UAE factory with three stages of filtration, including a lowpressure-drop HEPA filter, incorporating high-efficiency EC fan to keep the power consumption lower.

For new multi-storey buildings with central ventilation devices and to increase the fresh air changes without major increase in power consumption, we can combine low-pressure-drop filters with heat-recovery devices while using highefficiency EC fans. Flexibility on sizing the ventilation device is also important to achieve lower internal pressure drop. Sizing the ventilation device with height/ width increments of 5cm is also a standard feature of Daikin selection tool.

To address the fresh air concerns in light-commercial applications, we also launched the range, ‘Modular L – Compact Horizontal Heat Recovery Unit for decentralised ventilation’. The unit is suitable for indoor ceiling installation, featuring counterflow plate heat exchange with low pressure drop, multiple stage filtration and highly efficient EC fans.

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