Marafeq is Qatar's main utility infrastructure provider. What are the main projects that you are working on?
Currently, our biggest project in Qatar is Lusail. We have been working on this project since the beginning and we are now entering an advanced stage. Marafeq is focusing on three main utilities at the Lusail Project, namely district cooling, gas distribution, and waste management. The networks for the utilities are already constructed, so we are moving toward the construction of the plants. In 2014, we started the construction of two district cooling plants. Besides this project we are in the operation phase of a few localized DC plants at Lusail and two district cooling plants in Barwa City.
Are you planning to enter into other projects besides these two greenfields?
As a utility development company we prefer greenfield developments. This allows us to add value at different stages of the project. However, brownfield projects are a target for Marafeq if we feel we can add value and provide quality services for the developer. We are, at the moment, looking at different opportunities, but we are selective and will take our decision carefully by God's will.
What is the significance for Marafeq of having accreditation from QSAS and the US Green Building Council?
It is essential for a utility company like Marafeq not only to support but also to participate in international and local efforts to save the planet. The US Green Building Council has a lot of experience in the development of sustainability strategies and practices, which gives us this international angle, whereas QSAS integrates best practices from 140 global assessment systems to create a solid green building benchmark for Qatar. This represents the local angle for us. On that basis, we can really make a difference, especially in projects for which you can efficiently coordinate from the beginning to ensure the standards are implemented in all phases of the utility development process. On the other hand, for a utility provider like Marafeq Qatar, QSAS and/or LEED certification means we can count on a building demanding less energy from all aspects at the operation phase.
What are the specific benefits of district cooling?
First of all, district cooling is 40% to 60% more energy efficient than conventional systems and it has substantially lower operating costs and higher operating reliability and availability. Second, district cooling reduces construction and maintenance costs, because air-conditioning requirements are outsourced from the developers' angle. On top of that, district cooling has a high economical scale as a single unit replaces multiple individual ones. Another benefit here is that spaces used for the cooling systems can now be used for different purposes that render higher economical value.
What do you have planned for the next five years?
I believe Marafeq will be participating in awareness and in building a culture of responsible utility use. The optimum situation for utilities, considering the current growth plans for the country, will require Marafeq to contribute by ensuring efficiency. In terms of business, within five years we aim to be a strong utility technology provider, contributing to mega projects in Qatar, and to continue to promote knowledge transfer between relevant organizations. In addition, Marafeq Qatar will be more tightly linked with R&D in the utility field to meet the requirements of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Qatar National Vision 2030.