I’m not sure if you would remember, but in early 2011, Climate Control Middle East magazine had hosted a conference in Abu Dhabi, where District Cooling and standalone DX systems got a fair and decent hearing. The conference, conducted in a courtroom format, had advocates for both sides extolling the virtues of each system. Eventually, the ‘judge’, Dr Nawal Al Hosany of Masdar, after patiently listening to the ‘jury’ of end-users, declared that it had to be a horses-for-courses approach.
Matters did not rest there, though, with both sides having a go at each other during individual product seminars and at the odd conference.
In November 2012 in Riyadh, we took the first step away from mind-numbing comparisons and, instead, sought to reconcile the two. It was the need of the hour, considering that RACs and splits command 96% of the market for air conditioning in the Kingdom, while District Cooling and VRFs, with their purported vastly greater efficiency, continue to lag behind. The consensus in Riyadh was that the stakeholders of the two approaches would be far better off trying to advocate their benefits and present a case for their being the most energy-efficient approaches to cooling.
Towards the end of last month, we at the magazine took a step further by conducting a dedicated VRF conference, where District Cooling and comparisons did not figure to the extent of earlier; instead, it was almost pure VRF territory – an unabashed, no-holds-barred advocacy of VRFs.
The consultants and contractors in attendance listened to the panegyric, but at the end of it all, let it be known that while they were willing to give VRFs a go, they wanted to see the industry emerge from the secrecy it had shrouded itself in by showing a deep reluctance to share operational data of any form. As one consultant put it, “The VRF industry’s survival depends on its willingness to migrate from a closed loop to an open loop.”
We shall wait and see how things pan out on that front. A detailed story on the conference will appear in the April issue; this issue contains an appetiser.
The highlight of this issue (as is obvious from the cover page) is the interview with the CEO of Empower, the district cooling operator that has been instrumental in establishing a global ASHRAE design standard for District Cooling. We escalated the interview to cover story status, because it marks a rare occasion where the region is an influencer, as opposed to merely embracing an international standard. In that regard, Empower’s achievement ought to be an occasion for celebration for the entire District Cooling industry in the region.
Speaking of celebration, this issue contains detailed coverage of the 10th Anniversary celebrations of Qatar Cool. Space does not permit to discuss it here, so I am going to ask you to flip to the story, HERE.
With Best Wishes,