What is the status of district cooling in Qatar?
The district cooling sector in Qatar is quite substantial: there are around 23 systems in operation producing over 660,000 tons of refrigeration (TR) at present. Several hotels, malls, medical, and educational establishments use cooling systems through their onsite plants, along with some of the larger developments like Katara and Msheireb. Aside from individual developments there are major districts in Doha equipped with district cooling, such as the Pearl Qatar and West Bay, of which Qatar Cool serves along with several of the Qatar Rail stations. An additional 42 systems are expected to be operational by 2030, adding around 879,000TR, which, combined with the existing operational cooling systems, will provide significant savings to the economy and environment. Yet while this is inspiring, it is not enough. The range and volume of industries using district cooling in Doha depicts the versatility of the system given the correct density and demand, but district cooling remains distorted, saturated, and uncorroborated. It is still perceived as a luxury service and not a necessity. If the environment is to be taken seriously, district cooling needs to be a priority.
What are the roadblocks for district cooling, and what steps can the government take to overcome these?
District cooing has saved the country around QAR2.1 billion to date, a figure that is estimated to rise to QAR15 billion by 2030, according to a study conducted by Kahramaa's District Cooing Department. Yet it still has an adverse reputation despite the considerable financial savings it generates, not to mention the environmental savings. The public cannot see the benefits of district cooling whilst there are no subsidies from the government for the provision of the service, which would be positively cascaded to end users. It is the norm to tax undesirable behaviors to disincentivize the public from over-consumption, in most cases to protect health, the environment, or the economy. District cooling is being put under the same umbrella as undesirable policies, dissuading growth and implementation by unsubsidized charges put upon the providers. But district cooling has the reverse effect on economy, health, and the environment and should be characterized as such. Conventional cooling consumes 1.5-1.8kW per TR whereas district cooling consumes 0.8kW per TR, a figure that may seem unimportant to the public, particularly because energy is subsidized in Doha. However, should the subsidies be removed from the energy prices, the same inflation would be visible, thus evening out the keel between district cooling and other utility fees. The government requires good sustainable economic conduct to grow whilst lessening the bad conduct, but district cooling remains unsubsidized in the outskirts. Should the government inject a fraction of the savings generated by district cooling back into the industry with such policies such as zoning, distribution, and mandate strategies, society and industry alike would reap the benefits.
What drives your efficiency, and how are you increasing it?
There are many influences that contribute to the efficiency of a district cooling system. One of the major factors is load diversity, which entails the distribution of cooling energy. District cooling has the exceptional advantage of distributing a consistent cooling load dependent on customer needs. Where a conventional cooling system is either on or off and the cooling energy remains stagnant and unused, a district cooling system can redistribute the unused stagnant cooling energy to another customer with higher demand during certain times of the day. This diversity of delivery allows district cooling providers to utilize the full cooling load and provides customers with uninterrupted, consistent, and efficient cooling services at any given time.