A new era has dawned in the Kingdom of SaudiArabia, an era unprecedented in the history of the nation, which seems to be giving birth to a brand new system that is more efficient and more robust. What lies ahead, though, is a road packed with challenges, but as Abdul Salam Al Mobayed, CEO of Saudi Tabreed O&M Company (STOM) says: “It is all positive.”
Al Mobayed, the man running the first district cooling company in Saudi Arabia, and someone who has played a major role in building Saudi Tabreed, shares with us some interesting insights concerning the changing face of Saudi Arabia, and how the utility companies such as Saudi Tabreed are perceiving and preparing to be inline with the Vision 2030.
“In addition to the Vision 2030, the overall fabric of society is transforming from uncontrolled and unregulated to a smart, intelligent, and efficiency-conscious society with regards the use of resources, especially utilities,” says Al Mobayed.
“One of the key objectives of Vision 2030 is to enhance the focus of businesses on economic stability. This particularly aims at strengthening the ground to meet the immediate need for the sustainable use of resources in the kingdom, and looking at the cooling industry power and water tops the list. Air-conditioning, which takes up almost 60% of the electrical production in the Kingdom, has also come under scrutiny thanks to the visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia. In days gone by, energy efficiency was considered as a secondary priority, with the Kingdom’s vast oil resources seeming to overshadow everything else. At this time, no one was ready to hear about the added value of STOM through energy efficiency. However, today things have turned around 180 degrees, with the attitude and priorities of organisations, both private and government owned, changing dramatically.
“In a typical district cooling plant, operated by various entities, a power efficiency of 1.2 to 1.5 kW/T, and in the worst case scenarios up to 1.72 kW/T, were considered normal. At STOM, where our power efficiency varied between 0.72 to 0.9 kW/T, we are expecting that all government / semi-government and private facilities will look to retrofit and optimise their cooling systems in order to meet the best efficiency and spending.
“The government Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contracts set up before used to be decided based only on the lowest price placed by the bidders, without considering the efficiency as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for the service providers! Now, with the participation of four professional government entities, we are expecting that the efficiency of power and water, as well as the lifecycle of the assets for all district cooling systems, will need to achieve the efficiency demanded by Saudi Arabia Vision 2030,” Al Mobayed explains.
ECRA is committed to fostering the development of the district cooling industry for residential and commercial purposes in order to attain economic sustainability, while guaranteeing that the service provided meets the highest international standards of quality, efficiency, and coverage.
SEEC, meanwhile, will look to preserve the national wealth of energy sources in a way that supports the national economy and forces. SEEC aims at rationalising the production and consumption of energy to increase efficiency in the Kingdom and unify efforts in this field, whether governmental or non-governmental.
Tarshid aims to catalyse the development of a more energy efficient Saudi Arabia.
Mashroat will contribute to improving the efficiency and quality of infrastructure and facility management across public entities.
“The Kingdom is at a crossroads, with the old approach of going with the lowest commercial server or the value-added energy efficient service provider,” Al Mobayed continues. “In the longer term, the latter is poised to take over, but the change will be painstaking and cannot be done overnight. The savings that an energy-efficient cooling plant could bring far offset the savings on the operating cost paid to the service provider.
“If I may, I will quote a recent example that we experienced in our company concerning a huge saving in power consumption of a district cooling plant with a capacity of 25,000 TR. What we did was change the operations to our standard approach and added a few upgrades to the system. Apart from energy efficiency, the improved asset life and uninterrupted operations are a key benefit to the asset owner.
“With the advent of the new era in the Kingdom, while companies like STOM see it as a great opportunity for growth, some companies face the challenge of major transformation to fall in line with the energy efficient approach, or alternatively relinquish the business they now have to other more efficient operators,” concludes Al Mobayed.