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New regulations for district cooling system is to be unveiled soon-MEP Dubai-

A new set of district cooling regulations will come into effect later this year, reducing excessive billings and other issues. New regulations will bring clarity on tariffs, and set up transparency and accountability in the district cooling sector, says Dubai government officials.

“The grace period for the district cooling service providers and billing agents will expire on September 30, 2022, when the new comprehensive set of District Cooling Regulations comes into effect. Following this, we will supervise and monitor the activities of the district cooling companies to ensure compliance with the issued regulations,” remarked James Grinnell, head of Water at the Regulatory and Supervisory Bureau (RSB) for the electricity and water sector in Dubai.

The Regulatory and Supervisory Bureau (RSB) asked companies to ensure last year's reduction in fuel surcharge is being passed through to consumers by the billing agent. It also aims to ensure that only one deposit will be allowed per unit – either from landlord or tenant- and to prohibit prolonged estimated billing and fast replacement of faulty meters.

“As per the new regulations, district cooling permit holders have obligations to develop and publish a customer charter and measure performance against it, clear engagement obligations when dealing with customers in arrears, obligation to deliver chilled water, prompt return of deposits, reduce the occurrence of excess contract capacity estimates; penalties for poor energy performance, obligation to monitor and report health and safety, etc,” Grinnell says.

This new suite of regulations will bring increased transparency and establish stakeholder accountability to make the district cooling sector more efficient and customer-centric. Thereby district cooling offers a good value for money for customers.

Grinnell was speaking at the two-day MENA District Cooling Projects Conference held in Dubai, which started on June 14, 2022.

The Bureau was established in 2010 by Dubai Government to regulate Independent Water and Power Producers (IWPP) in 2011 and has also supported Dubai's Demand-Side Management (DSM) since 2013. In 2021, it received the mandate to regulate the district cooling sector, too.

RSB has yet to issue 22 district cooling permits out of 24 applications among 28 companies. Among the billing agents, it has licensed 11 out of 12 applications and 11 service providers out of 12 applications.

After consultation with all the stakeholders, he said the move comes as the grace period for companies gets expired on September 30, 2022.

Other governments in the Middle East are also enacting regulatory regimes to ensure structured growth of the district cooling industry. The governments of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia have been working on regulations over the last few years.

The government has put a sound regulatory environment for the district cooling sector in the emirate, said Leila Noubough Nasr, District Cooling Regulation senior specialist at Abu Dhabi Department of Energy.

More than 250 delegates including senior government officials, project owners, developers, utility suppliers, industry experts, and key stakeholders participated in the two-day MENA District Cooling Projects Conference that focused on the growth of this important sector.

At the event With more than 25 international and regional experts analyzed, which the current market outlook, opportunities, and challenges in the region’s district cooling industry – are becoming a more popular trend due to their energy efficiency. It is ideal for large establishments such as airports, commercial buildings, university campuses, and residential towers. The technology relies on a centralized cooling plant, which facilitates cooling within its grid through a network of underground piping systems carrying chilled water. More than 20 leading organizations from 10 countries showcased their products and services at the conference through an exhibition. 

Most countries in the Middle East are now racing to install new district cooling plants to reduce their carbon emissions With the net-zero emission target announced by the international community by 2050. Following the footsteps of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, and other countries launched a large number of district cooling projects across the region – that will keep the contractors and subcontractors busy for the next 15-20 years, experts said.

The Officials of civic bodies such as municipalities, utility providers, utility operators, contractors, sub-contractors, materials suppliers, consultants, engineers, regulatory bodies and developers, etc are attending the event. They were provided with enormous networking and business opportunities at the conference, many have accomplished businesses around the latest projects that are currently in the early stage of execution and many other projects.

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