Stellar performance helps JLT towers to beat summer heat

Dubai is fast becoming one of the most important markets in the world for the booming district cooling industry and US-based Stellar Group is hoping that its Plug ‘n’ Chill concept being used on the Jumeirah Lake Towers project will be adopted by other developers in the region. MEP Middle East reports

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By  MEP Middle East Published  August 25, 2006

|~|3p26200-body.gif|~|Design engineering started on the project in April 2005, while construction started in September 2005. The first chillers will go live by the end of August.|~|Plug ‘n’ Chill is the neat phrase that US-based Stellar Group uses to describe its modular chillers being installed in the massive Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) district cooling plant in Dubai. Unfortunately, when MEP Middle East visited the site at the height of Dubai’s sweltering summer the chillers were there to see, but there was no sign of the plug. That’s because the plant is not due to come on line until the end of this month. Then the first of the 7,000 TR chiller modules to be installed there will roar into action, distributing chilled water for air conditioning around the JLT development. Until then the temperature on site will be anything but cool, as the construction team battles to meet the project’s demanding timetable while temperatures rise by the week. US-based Stellar Group is installing the modules for the plant, which will form part of one of the largest new district cooling schemes in the world. The first phase of the project is worth around US $93 million (AED340 million), and is due to come on line by the end of this month – not bad going considering that Stellar did not start on site until September 2005. A significant proportion of this cost is eaten up by the chiller units themselves – accounting for between 20-30% of the total project outlay. “Design engineering work for the project started in April 2005, while work commenced on site in September 2005. The first chillers will go on line towards the end of August, which is a fairly aggressive programme,” says Ivan Norris, Stellar Group general manager. Jumeirah Lake Towers is a massive development of 79 towers formed into 25 clusters and located between interchanges five and six of Sheikh Zayed Road. The master developer on the project is Nakheel and the district cooling is being supplied by Palm District Cooling (PDC) – a joint venture company established in 2004 between Gulf District Cooling and Istithmar, which is the investment arm of the government-backed Dubai World. Three cooling plants that are being built by Stellar have capacities of 35 000, 28,000 and 42,000 TR respectively. When the first phase of the project is complete, the system at total build will provide roughly 77,000 TR to cool the development. “We offered PDC the ability to phase the build through a modular approach,” explains Norris. “All of the infrastructure goes in initially and then we can subsequently add capacity. “The main benefit to the client is that they can phase their capital investment,” he adds. ‘Plug ‘n’ Chill’ describes Stellar’s modular approach to cooling, where large district cooling plants can be built and individual chillers added or plugged in as required. “Putting all of the infrastructure we need into one unit is a very cost-effective approach. You can drop them in as you need them. They have been designed for the very aggressive and corrosive environment here,” adds Paul Saville, Stellar Group vice president, engineering. Underneath the building that houses the chiller units intended to feed the development, is a massive tank holding some two million gallons of make-up water. This is a DEWA requirement and the Dubai utility company also requires 24 access to the switchgear contained within the building. Before work on a project such as this can start, the district cooling company must first embark on some fairly complex calculations to estimate the total cooling requirement. “When a development starts, we ask each developer to give us their requirements in terms of tonnage and dates of when they require chilled water. Accordingly, we phase the construction of our plantrooms,” says PDC chief operating officer, Shafiq Khoori. Khoori believes the regional district cooling market offers huge potential for the company to expand in the UAE and beyond. “We are currently involved with sister company projects and see tremendous opportunities for expanding within the region,” he adds. Unlike the district cooling system that has been installed on other developments, such as the neighbouring Jumeirah Beach Residences project, PDC opted for glass reinforced plastics (GRP) pipe instead of steel for the main water distribution network. With steel prices having increased by around 65% over the first half of the year, the decision now seems to have been a very wise one. “With the availability and cost of steel, it was an obvious choice. There was a significant cost and delivery benefit,” explains Norris. While the first two modules to be installed on the project have been fabricated at Stellar’s US base in Jacksonville, Florida, the remaining units will be manufactured in the UAE. This gives a good indication of the company’s positive outlook on the future of the local district cooling market. ||**||

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