Pioneers in district cooling

Tabreed was the first provider of district cooling services in GCC. They are now one of the largest and they intend to hold this position.

DATE 2023-11-28 AUTHOR Birgitta Lundblad

With temperatures that can reach to almost 50°C in the summer, the need for cooling capacity in the Gulf States is enormous. Air conditioning in this part of the world consumes almost 70% of the energy produced. Consequently, cooling solutions designed to use only half the energy compared to other air-conditioning systems are bound for success.

And success is what is written all over Tabreed in the United Arab Emirates, the first commercial provider of district cooling systems in the GCC region. Today Tabreed is one of the world’s largest companies in this field. The company expects its production of total chilled water tonnage to reach 197,000 refrigeration tons in 2006 and 334,000 tons in 2007 compared to 97,000 tons in 2005.

Tabreed’s district cooling technology provides chilled water from a cooling plant through a network of pipes to multiple residential, industrial and commercial buildings for air conditioning purposes. District cooling provides a lot of benefits both in terms of maximised comfort for tenants and in terms of economy. The financial benefits are substantial both for building owners and tenants since the costs of investment, power distribution, maintenance and power consumption inside the buildings are reduced and the cost of chillers are eliminated.

Expanding in the Middle East

“We were the first to supply district cooling solutions in this region and we intend to stay the leader in this business in the years to come”, says Dany Safi, CEO and Board Member of Tabreed. “We will focus on expansion in the  middle East region. We have already established companies in Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and we are presently forming companies in Kuwait, Jordan and Oman as well.”

The company started as Gulf Energy Systems in 1995 and became Tabreed, a public shareholding company, in 1998. Tabreed has pioneered several technologies that are unique in the Middle East, if not in the world. Today Tabreed has 36 district cooling schemes in the UAE of which 18 are already operational, 15 under different stages of construction and 3 at the design stage. The projects include several impressive malls, commercial and residential towers, universities, hospitals, hotels and the Grand Mosque.

Tabreed is also engaged in a number of district cooling projects in other Gulf countries through its local joint ventures. Its single largest plant, serving The Pearl of Qatar, is for 110,000 tons of contracted cooling capacity.

Strong hopes for the Metro

Last year, Tabreed signed a USD 815 million contract with Dubai Municipality to provide the entire Dubai Metro Project with district cooling services. This massive project will initially require a cooling load of 36,000 refrigeration tons, and upon completion the cooling load will peak to 350,000 tons. The first phase of the metro project is expected to be finalized during 2009.

“Dubai Metro will comprise 47 stations so this will be a way for us to be present everywhere and enhance our position”, says Maged Fahmy, Projects Director at Tabreed. “Considering the traffic problem in Dubai which is becoming increasingly serious, the metro is an extremely interesting project, particularly if the other emirates can be connected to it in the future.”

Tabreed started its activities with military projects and seven of the company’s plants supply district cooling to military camps. Until last year, 70–80% of Tabreed’s business involved military projects, but with the strong development in the civilian field, both areas now respectively account for some 50% of the business.

Great prospective

With a net profit increase in 2005 of a phenomenal 62% compared to 2004, Dany Safi has every reason to take a bright view of the future. “The booming regional economies and the resulting energy requirements demand that developers incorporate energy efficient systems for their new residential and business projects,” he says. “We provide a technology which gives tremendous benefits for the government and the utility companies. It’s the responsibility of Tabreed to continue to provide high quality district cooling service to our customers and see to it that our business is conducted in an optimum way.”

Alfa Laval and Tabreed

Alfa Laval enjoys a strong relationship with Tabreed. “There are many competitors in the heat exchanger market in this region.

Some of them offer low prices and make many promises”, says Maged Fahmy. “Alfa Laval has proven to be honest and reliable. We know that we can trust its products and specifications fully and we are guaranteed that things will work. And the company is always there for us. Alfa Laval is the primary source for the supply of heat exchangers as it gives us value for money.”

Tabreed and its successful development have been of great importance for Alfa Laval’s own success in the comfort climate area in the UAE and the other Gulf states. “We have great admiration for what Tabreed has accomplished and we are proud to be one of their business partners,” says Bharat Bhola, Regional Manager, Comfort & Refrigeration at Alfa Laval Middle East Ltd. in Dubai.

“We always make an effort to find the best solution for them. Their business is very capital intensive, so largest possible savings both when it comes to investment and running costs are a prioritized goal.”