Manama, Bahrain, 18 September 2018: Bahrain has expressed a commitment to increase the penetration of District Cooling, in a move to increase efficiency and lessen environmental impact. Dominic McPolin, Chief, Central Planning Office, Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs & Urban Planning, Bahrain, described District Cooling as “potentially the biggest step and fastest delivery [mechanism] to reduce carbon footprint in the region”. In discussing bottlenecks with regard to District Cooling, primarily owing to the fact that it is run by private enterprises, McPolin said that part of the difficulty is making private sector businesses recognise that they have a public obligation. “The only time that will be recognised is through a regulatory framework,” he added.
The first principle of the regulatory framework, McPolin stressed, is transparency. “If you have transparency through regulations,” he said, “such questions and issues disappear.” This, he said, is fundamental in any movement and change relating to prices and levies. “It’s a two-way adjustment,” he said. “If a company wants to increase its cost, it must justify these increases, propose increases through a regulator, who will look at constituent parts of the cost and judge whether there is a justifiable argument based on clear validated constituents to that total cost.”
Secondly, McPolin said, as District Cooling attracts more customers and gets support from the government, the increase in business must be reflected. “As you get more connections, wider networks and a more secure customer base, there should be some formula to pass on savings to consumers,” he said. “We need to find a way of getting any savings shared with the consumers, so that District Cooling, over time, becomes more attractive.”
McPolin said that one of the objectives under the National Energy Efficiency Plan, endorsed by the Cabinet of Bahrain, is to look at barriers for greater use of District Cooling and overcoming them by introducing a regulatory framework. “The industry is probably the most important infrastructure in the region in terms of providing a big win for carbon footprint and sustainability,” he said. “All of this cannot happen without balanced regulation for the benefit of the business and the benefit of consumer.” A comprehensive vision, he said, is key, adding that the future of the industry depends on clear regulations for consumer protection as well as secure operations.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org