Saudi Arabia must embrace trigeneration-based district cooling in order to meet its national renewable energy targets, an industry expert has said.

Speaking earlier this month at the second District Cooling and Tri-Generation Summit in Riyadh, George Berbari, CEO of UAE-based district energy firm DC Pro Engineering, was quoted as saying that the nation’s renewable power targets are ‘eminently achievable’ despite challenges such as ‘low efficiency, soaring growth rates and overdependence on government subsidies’.

The goals will be even more achievable, he added, ‘if decision-makers embrace the next generation of efficient technologies, such as trigeneration district cooling, for future projects.’

‘Chilled water and hot water stratified thermal storage is the world’s most viable storage technology,’ he added. ‘This solution reduces construction costs by more than 10% and improves operating efficiency by more than 15%.’

He predicted that the percentage of district cooling in Saudi Arabia will increase to 15% by 2030, up from 4% in 2015.

To make this happen, he said district cooling technology needs to be ‘more appealing to construction firms and developers’.

‘We need to change electric slab tariffs from penalizing district cooling to favouring it; introduce regulations that force district cooling providers to adopt 20% of their energy from renewables such as on-site or remote solar PV, deep geothermal, biofuels and biomass; or even nationalize the district cooling distribution network and expand it to have a national grid with equal access to all service providers.’

As outlined in its Saudi Vision 2030, the nation aims to install 9.5 GW of renewables by 2022 and 54 GW by 2040.