PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has the potential to triple the scale of its district cooling industry to a built-up capacity of 575,000 tonnes of refrigerants, said Nexant Asia Ltd government and clean energy consulting vice-president Peter Du Pont.
“This is just a ballpark estimate based on the technical structures and potential, and it is just looking at new projects that fit the profile of projects larger than 20,000 sq m. Malaysia is clearly the first in the region, and if this is scaled up, then the country could easily expand the market in the next few years from the 200,000-tonne capacity right now,” he told reporters at the Energy Wise: Exploring Prospects for District Cooling in South-East Asia seminar, organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday.
Nexant Asia is advising the ADB on its “South-East Asia Energy Efficiency Initiative” aimed at driving energy efficiency investment in the region. ADB currently invests more than US$2.3bil (RM7.29bil) per year in clean energy projects across Asia.
District cooling refers to the centralised production and distribution of cooling energy on a large scale, essentially delivering chilled water to buildings like offices and factories needing cooling.
“The district cooling industry is gaining traction in South-East Asia. However, there is still a low level of awareness in countries like Thailand and the Philippines that have huge opportunities to develop this further,” he said.
He said there were 10 significant projects and the seminar would be sharing some of these case studies with the participants, comprising of industry players and government officials across the region.
According to ADB, electric chillers and cooling systems typically account for 30% to 50% of a building’s electricity bill in South-East Asia, and more efficient systems could have a major impact.
It said district cooling systems could lead to reduced capital expenditure in equipment, while also reducing long-run operating expenses for a facility owner.
It estimated that US$11bil of investment in end-use efficiency is needed by South-East Asian countries by 2020 to meet their national targets for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions.
ADB senior investment specialist Daniel Wiedmer said although district cooling was among the best solutions, an information barrier still persisted as the users did not shout about their savings, and that this seminar worked towards convincing more to adopt the system rather than conventional systems.
Cofely South-East Asia chief execdutive officer Pierre Cheyron, meanwhile, said Malaysia had successfully implemented district cooling systems for the past 20 years, and the company was already making the country its regional hub.