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Prominent district cooling professionals visit Empower's state-of-the-art Command and Control Centre at the end of IDEA International District Cooling Conference

December 16th, 2014

Financing and managing sustainable district cooling systems and regulating the industry were key topics on final day

“The key to the success of any district cooling provider is enhancing the overall operational efficiency and ensuring that customers receive a consistent level of service. Though seemingly simple in theory, in reality this demands tremendous investments,” said the statement issued at the conclusion of the 2014 IDEA International District Cooling Conference today (Tuesday, 16 December 2014).

The conference ended with a conducted tour of Empower’s state-of-the-art Command and Control Centre (CCC) in Dubai for prominent delegates from the international district cooling industry.

Organised by the International District Energy Association (IDEA), and hosted by Empower under the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Airlines & Group, the international conference threw light on major cooling projects and thermal energy storage for more efficient operations at large-size district cooling plants. The event also tackled operations, maintenance, efficiency and optimization of district cooling and stressed the importance of optimizing district chilled water systems and achieving efficient optimized district load and storage distribution.

Day two of the conference critically analysed the financing of district cooling infrastructure by tapping the capital market, understanding risk management and competitive financing. Key speakers from global and regional institutions shared their perspective on the potential and prospects for growth in the district cooling industry.

Robert P Thornton, President and CEO of IDEA said that 6 leading international and local banks attended the conference which featured a panel discussion on the value of district cooling industry in the region, prospects of providing capital for the industry and assessing overall risks related to such financing.”

The participants said that the growing confident of the banks in financing district cooling projects stems from regional governments’ commitment to the growth of this industry.

Thornton said that the UAE government has ambitious plans to double the production of district cooling as it forms a crucial component of its energy strategy.

Deepa Bharadwaj Pasumarty, Managing Director, Global Head, Infrastructure & Transportation, Standard Chartered Bank said: “District cooling is a growing industry in the Middle East and we think that banks have a role to play in financing this industry. In the region, district cooling is a critical infrastructure which can provide stable cashflows.”
 
David Dubin, Managing Director, Capital Markets Origination, Head of Projects & Infrastructure, Finance, EMEA, Citibank, said: “Banks that have deep knowledge of respective industries and strong client relationships are key to financing companies in any industry, including district cooling."
 
Farrukh Zaman, Senior Vice President, Corporate & Investment Banking Group, Large Corporates Division, Mashreq Bank added: “Mashreq Bank is pleased to actively participate in this global conference. We got to understand how the district cooling industry has developed in different markets. We also learned how this industry is financed in other parts of the world. We think there is significant growth potential for this industry."
 
Adrian Sender, Executive Manager, Corporate Finance Wholesale Banking, Doha Bank, said:  “The conference timing is perfect and I am delighted that it was held in Dubai, a place where the wealth of global projects underpins the need for district cooling. The conference has been very informative and interactive, and it was good to be updated on technologies and advancements in  this industry,” he added.
 
Sender added: “Banks can play a critical role in the district cooling industry as financing is a prime requisite here. DC is a capital intensive industry and it needs significant portion of debts to produce returns. Empower has been an exceptional performance. GCC banks, especially Doha Bank, are growing in sophistication and geographical footprint, and are in a position to finance complex infrastructure projects, including District cooling ventures.”

Thornton remarked that district cooling industry was not always easy to be quantified or monetized and its benefits are collective to the larger society as much as they are individualist to end users.

Thornton said that leading regulatory experts discussed goals, key issues and potential approaches to regulation in the context of new district cooling regulations under consideration in few countries. He added that regulation wasn’t a necessity as the U.S. district cooling industry wasn’t regulated, though it is one of the most advanced in the world.

The technical tour included Empower’s Business Bay and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) plants.

Bin Shafar said that inviting prominent members of the district cooling industry to the company’s state-of-the-art Command and Control Centre (CCC) in Dubai was a demonstration of Empower’s responsible approach to district cooling.  The CCC critically analyzes processes that are crucial to the global advancement of the industry and the overall growth of district cooling companies, such as the complete cycle of financing, developing, building and managing sustainable district cooling systems.

Bin Shafar added: “Empower’s CCC offers a 360-degree view of all activities across our plants including operations that ensure the efficiency of its cooling towers and consumer consumption patterns. This investment represents a global first: more than one million parameter tags on a virtualised IT platform for the district cooling industry. We were pleased to share with our peers our success story through this project.”

Thornton concluded: “Thanks to Empower, participants in the 6th edition of the IDEA conference were able to go back home with extensive knowledge on how the revolutionary CCC enables the delivery of secure and reliable services. The visitors expressed their admiration for the advanced technologies and systems in place and information on demand, supply and consumption patterns in each and every building unit available at fingertips.”

At the conference, Katrina Pielli, Senior Advisor for International Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Technologies, U.S. Department of Energy, congratulated Empower and Johnson Controls Inc (JCI) on the signing of the MoU on the opening day as part of the excellent bilateral relations in the field of energy between the UAE and U.S. focusing on collaboration and sharing of best practices.

She said: “It is a great example of how the government and private sector in the UAE and the U.S can team up and learn from each other. It will help in the advancement of district cooling, renewable energy and energy efficiency across the region.”

Bin Shafar pointed out that the conference has enabled Dubai to share with the world the story of how its district cooling schemes are being operated and how they could serve as a model for other countries of the world.

Held under the theme ‘Cleaner Energy, Greener Cities’, the conference highlighted the district cooling schemes adopted in different parts of the world. It also explored new mechanisms to track, monitor and control up the district cooling production and delivery in real time across companies’ district cooling networks, an area Empower had a success story that it shared at the IDEA conference according to Thornton.

“The Middle East has rapidly developed into a major hub for district cooling. Empower is lending huge support to the global district cooling sector and playing the principle host of this conference is an evidence to our worldwide commitment as part of Dubai’s far sighted vision,” Bin Shafar said. 

Ken Smith, CEO, District Energy St. Paul, Chairman, IDEA commented: “It was a terrific conference. I am impressed overall. The breadth and depth of the topics discussed were informative. I have given insights in the conference as well as I gained new knowledge on how the industry is moving in the Middle East. I have been in lots of cities around the world and I was impressed with what I have seen in Dubai. Empower has put tremendous efforts in hosting this conference. I am looking forward to be here again.”

Mark Spurr, FVB Energy pointed out: “It was a very useful discussion throughout two days. Today’s topics on financing and regulations were extremely related. The conference was very insightful technically and business wise. I have personally seen the district cooling industry growing in the UAE. Tremendous progress was made since then.”


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