Abu Dhabi real estate developer Aldar Properties is considering forming joint ventures with its district cooling providers in order to ensure air conditioning services are provided to people living and working on its developments Aldar.

Planned Aldar projects
  Percentage of 81 Bn
Yas Island 45.7
Mina Zayed 18.5
Raha Beach 18.5
Others 17.3
Total 100
Source: MEED

Speaking at MEED’s Middle East District Cooling 2010 conference on 27 September, Aldar’s Head of Infrastructure Projects Faisal al-Kamali said that the move was one of several options being considered by Aldar. Others include taking ownership of aspects of the district cooling infrastructure on its schemes, such as the distribution pipeline networks.

Al-Kamali said many district cooling providers had over-designed their plants during the real estate boom with “more pipes and more chillers than were needed.” He asserted that cash flow problems had resulted due to meeting project debt repayments because demand is not meeting expectations.

He said that the sector needs to develop stronger regulations and design codes.   

Al-Kamali went on to say that one of the lessons that had been learned from the downturn in the region’s real estate sector was that district cooling was best suited to high-density developments in high-rise buildings. “Vertical district cooling works best” according to Al-Kamali, who referred to its Al-Raha Gardens project as a horizontal scheme that uses district cooling, but was not suited for district cooling.

Mohammad Meerza, design and construction director of Sorouh Real Estate, agreed that “vertical, high density buildings are right for district cooling.” Projects such as Aldar’s Al-Raha Beach development are better suited for such projects. According to Al-Kamali, “I think it will work perfectly because [Al-Raha Beach] is all high-rise projects.”

Al-Kamali also urged planners to ensure that changes to their master plans are kept to a minimum, as doing so means that capacity designs must be revised. He pointed to Aldar’s Al-Raha Beach development as an example of a project that saw changes to its master plans which “caused a lot of problems with utilities.”