Abu Dhabi's district cooling regulatory framework activated

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy announces first District Cooling licences in the emirate.

  • The DoE’s new licenses and its District Cooling Regulations provide a clear regulatory framework to protect consumers, encourage sustainable growth, and use district cooling technologies as a more energy efficient solution. 

H.E. Mohammad bin Jarsh Al Falasi

  • The Emirate has led the way in developing and now implementing the first comprehensive District Cooling Regulatory Framework in the region. 
  • We welcome this innovative and efficient technology to the utility sector; the regulatory framework provides a clear platform for future growth and investment.

Abu Dhabi:– Abu Dhabi’s District Cooling sector continues to grow, with the DoE’s regulatory framework enabling further progress towards energy and water efficiency. District Cooling can provide a more energy efficient solution for cooling buildings. With investment, recycled water can also be used in district cooling networks, further underlining the sustainability of this technology.

Following the issuance of the DoE’s regulations and extensive engagement with stakeholders, the DoE has now issued its first District Cooling licence. The first of the newly licensed DC projects is the Saadiyat Cooling L.L.C (SCL), which serves Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island, including Saadiyat Beach, and Saadiyat Cultural District. A second license will be issued in the coming weeks to Saadiyat District Cooling L.L.C (SDCL), which serves New York University Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy issued the District Cooling Regulations and the District Cooling Applicability Regulations, approved by the Abu Dhabi Government in September 2019, making the Emirate of Abu Dhabi the first jurisdiction in the Middle East and North Africa region to set up a comprehensive regulatory framework for District Cooling. The DoE’s work has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the DoE announced the launch of the Technical Panel Review Process for the District Cooling Technical Code and District Cooling Metering Code on February 23, 2021. Members of the Panel include DC Providers, retailers, developers, Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), and Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC). Membership is open to any entity that will be affected by the codes.

The objective of this collaborative effort is to ensure that views of all stakeholders in the emirate are considered in the review of the Code, and, in turn, allow the emirate as a whole to benefit from it. Published in March 2020, the Technical Codes are performance-based specifications with defined key performance indicators (KPIs); they aim to promote energy efficiency, sound water management, reliability of service, and customer satisfaction.

“As the Government department tasked with leading the energy sector in the Emirate, the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy consistently supports the Government’s efforts to ensure the wellbeing of the community while also driving the growth and progress of various key sectors in the economy,” said DoE Undersecretary His Excellency Mohammad Juma bin Jarsh Al Falasi.

“The District Cooling industry is a key area of our mandate, and with that in mind, we issued the DC regulations to streamline operations in the sector, shift the focus squarely to the consumer, boost Abu Dhabi’s economic growth, and champion sustainable practices and energy efficiency,” H.E. added. “Our efforts are beginning to bear fruit with these first two licensed projects now activating the new regulations. We will always be here to collaborate with our partners to implement the regulations and encourage innovative sustainable solutions for District Cooling as well as every other sector.”

District Cooling is a centralised cooling production and distribution system that uses an insulated underground pipe network to serve multiple buildings within the same area. The system is usually used for cooling residential buildings, commercial buildings, mixed-use buildings, and densely populated areas. When feasible, it is the most environmentally friendly option when it comes to air conditioning, reducing energy consumption up to 40% more than the best conventional cooling system available and cutting CO2 emission levels.

Implementing the DoE regulations in these two schemes promises to deliver substantial benefits to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, such as a possible reduction in consumption fees for more than 100 residential units at the Saadiyat Beach Residence area.

Other advantages include the existing transparency of costs, an increase in capacity, and service charges for end-consumers; committed investment by licensees to upgrade DC plants and enhance service standards; and commitment from licensees to invest in more sustainable technologies that promote usage of recycled water at these schemes, sharing any resulting cost benefits with consumers in the future.

Existing environmental benefits arising from District Cooling will be further enhanced with greater usage of recycled water, while also ensuring customers benefit from having a world-leading District Cooling provider operating with a best-in-class regulatory framework to ensure efficiency, high service standards, transparency, and a customer-centric approach.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy drafted the regulations in line with Law No. (11) for 2018, which mandated the DoE with protecting consumer rights, providing a stable environment for investors, and improving energy efficiency. Also part of the DoE’s mandate is regulating District Cooling activities, providing licensing for the entities and individuals involved in the sector, and monitoring their compliance with quality standards.


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