Making District Cooling a Utility
Under the right conditions, district cooling becomes the most efficient and feasible cooling option over other conventional cooling technologies. In high density and diverse use developments, deploying a district-cooling scheme will generally offer the developer numerous advantages in terms of long term cost efficiency, reliability, resilience, energy use reduction, and environmental impact.
Often, developers are wary of the technology due to unfamiliarity with the system, mistrust in the billing strategy, or high initial investments requirements. It is definite that district cooling has seen its greatest success when backed up by policies and governmental support via codes, designated zoning, and supporting enablers. Treating District Cooling as a utility is a sure way to ensure proper integration into new developments and the success of the model.
Integration of infrastructure planning for district cooling with the development planning is required to ensure the adequacy of the infrastructure, the suitability of the buildings mix, and sufficient attention to cooling load build up during phasing. Also, creating design criteria for developers and investors to create district cooling-ready buildings is essential.
In the feasibility study that we conducted for the Public Authority for Housing and Welfare in Kuwait, we detailed the role of governments in enabling a modern district cooling scheme across the country. One of our recommendations was to treat district cooling as a utility via designing new cities that are district cooling ready at their high density centers. An enabling framework was set inclusive of technical, financial, legal, and operational aspects. We also listed success factors, common mistakes and lessons learnt from the regional and international scenes to enable a successful model in the country.
District Cooling requires a great deal of planning and integration of interface stakeholders. Energy-efficient and feasible district cooling should adopt professional implementation along the project value chain, including planning, design, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning, and operation and maintenance.