Singapore, 21 March 2018: District Cooling is gaining momentum in Asia, said Pierre Cheyron, CEO, Engie Services Asia-Pacific, based on his observations of both public-sector organisations as well as private developers. Cheyron said most new and major urban developments include District Cooling from day one, citing One Bangkok in Thailand and Marina Bay in Singapore as examples. Cheyron also said that real estate owners are now shifting the traditional cooling systems of existing developments, particularly industrial and business parks, to District Cooling in order to generate significant savings at the district level, citing the Northgate project in the Philippines, developed jointly with local developer Filinvest, as an example. He said, “[This] is driven by both cost savings and reduction of CO2 emissions. But I would say the main driver for private real estate owners and developers remains cost reduction.”
Despite significant interest, Cheyron said that he believes there is still much room for improvement. He said: “Some governments give specific local incentives. For example, in Malaysia there is a discount on electricity tariffs if you have thermal storage, which is a key feature of District Cooling.” Yet, Cheyron does not think there have been enough concerted efforts at the ASEAN level to advance its penetration. “I don’t foresee it will be strongly regulated in any country,” he said.
Cheyron added that for District Cooling to move forward, there is a need for clarity among stakeholders, including end-users as well as stronger communication channels. He said: “District Cooling in Asia is mostly in business or industrial parks, so the provider has to make sure the charges are clear and transparent and competitive on the long-term versus stand-alone cooling solution. This requires strong dialogue and simple tariff formulas, like any other public utility.”
That being said, Cheyron explained that he considers end-user views on District Cooling to be a bottleneck towards its greater penetration. “The key,” he said, “is to convince end-users that District Cooling systems are more efficient and cheaper.” Change in perception, Cheyron said, can only occur through a demonstration of concrete cases, coming from existing infrastructure. He points to the Northgate project again as an example, saying that since its start in 2017, it has generated more than 10% energy savings at district level for all its buildings.
Hannah Jo Uy is Features Writer at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at email@example.com