Residents across Dubai will see greater competition in the chilling industry after the local Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower)announced it would be supplying district cooling systems (DCS) for some of the emirate’s largest projects.

The company, which now falls under the auspices of Dubai Holding, has agreed in principle to provide district cooling services for Dubailand, the Dubai Light Rail (DLR), Jumeirah Internationalproperties and the World Trade Centre.

Empower signed in mid-October an estimated AED 350 million ($95 million) contract to provide a 90,000-tonne unit for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) scheduled to be completed by 2005. It also expects to build a plant for Dubai Technology, e-commerce & Free Zone Authority (Tecom) by the same date.

The company is already supplying a 60,000-tonne unit for 36 towers and four hotels on the Jumeirah Beach Residence.

Set up with an initial capital of AED 500 million ($136 million), Empower is a joint venture between Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) and Tecom.

‘We are considered the fourth service provider in Dubai behind Etisalat, DEWA and Internet City,’ Ahmad bin Shasar, Empower’s chief executive officer told MEED on 21 October. ‘When we compared ourselves with our competitors in terms of capacity, we found that we were bigger. The three projects we are currently running add up to 205,000 tonnes, but this does not include the future projects. We expect to become the biggest district cooling service provider in the world.’

The construction boom in Dubai has seen a greater need for alternatives to traditional air-conditioning systems. DCS is seen as a cost-efficient method of air-conditioning by allowing central plants to cool water and distribute it through a network of piping systems to individual customer buildings.

According to Empower, Dubai’s government is spending about AED 2,000 million ($545 million) each year to upgrade and expand DEWA’s power and water facilities. By adding to the district cooling facilities, the company believes it can save 20-40 per cent on consumption, while also reducing customer bills for air-conditioning by 50 per cent.

Dubai now has a host of district cooling companies dealing with specific zones. Abu Dhabi-based National Central Cooling Company (Tabreed)is focusing much of its Dubai operations on developing the Sheikh Zayed highway network. It also signed contracts in September valued at AED 840 million ($228 million) to equip, operate and maintain cooling equipment for the UAE Armed Forces. Local property developer Emaarcreated on 12 October Emaar District Cooling (EDC)to provide cooling systems for its residences, while Palm District Cooling, owned by Nakheel, will supply services for the Palm projects. The company is building a central cooling station on the Palm Jumeirah development valued at AED 700 million ($190 million – MEED 6:8:04).