What are the different applications of District Cooling?

What are the different applications of District Cooling?

Introduction

District Cooling is a cost effective and energy efficient technology for urban comfort cooling. Due to its many technological, environmental and economic benefits, District Cooling is adopted in a variety of different applications. This article seeks to show selected examples of the different applications of District Cooling around the World.

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District Cooling: A cost-effective and energy efficient solution for comfort cooling

District Cooling: A Cost Effective and Energy Efficient solution for comfort cooling

Summary

District Cooling system has two major competitive advantages over in-building cooling plants, which makes it a cost-effective and energy efficient solution for urban comfort cooling. The two advantages are:

  1. Efficient Asset and Resource Utilization
  2. Efficient Energy Utilization

This article discusses in detail the competitive advantages of a District Cooling System compared to the conventional in-building cooling plants.

Introduction

In conventional comfort cooling in an urban environment, each building is equipped with its own cooling system. The cooling capacity depends on the size and the usage of the building. The building cooling demand determines the type of cooling technology. Smaller office and residential buildings are typically provided with air cooled technology, which has higher unit energy consumption. Larger commercial or office buildings will invariably be installed with water cooled electrical chillers.

In a modern city with an equatorial climate, like Singapore, approximately 70% of electricity consumption in commercial buildings is attributed to comfort cooling and two third of that consumption is used to power the in-building chiller plants.[1] This energy statistic underscores the importance of optimizing the energy usage of air conditioning in the urban environment. District Cooling technology holds the promise of significant improvement in the energy efficiency of comfort cooling.

A District Cooling system does away with the in-building cooling plants by providing a centralized source of energy as a utility service. The District Cooling model comprises a Central Chiller Plant generating cooling energy to be supplied to each individual End-user building via a network of distribution pipes.

District Cooling systems have certain competitive advantages compared to conventional in-building cooling plants. These advantages translate into real world benefits, which make district cooling technology a cost-effective and energy efficient cooling solution for comfort cooling in the modern city.

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What are the main components of a District Cooling system?

What are the main components of a district cooling system?

District Cooling System

District cooling is the generation and distribution of cooling energy in the form of chilled water from a central chiller plant to multiple end-user buildings for the purpose of comfort cooling. The chilled water produced at the central chiller plant is transported to the end-users via a network of chilled water distribution piping.

Main Components of a District Cooling System
Main Components of a District Cooling System: District Cooling Plant, Piping Network and End-user Buildings

As shown in the diagram above, a District Cooling System consists of the following primary components:

  1. The District Cooling Plant is a Central Chiller Plant which generates the thermal energy in the form of chilled water.
  2. The Piping Network which transports and distributes the chilled water to the End-user Buildings.
  3. The End-user Buildings which subscribe to the District Cooling Service and consumes the thermal energy.

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What are the benefits of District Cooling?

What are the benefits of District Cooling?

Introduction

In 2015, United Nations Environmental Programme released the publication, “District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the Full Potential of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy”. The report stated that:

  • Cities account for over 70 percent of global energy use and 40 to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
  • Half of cities’ energy consumption is for heating and cooling.

The above figures show that comfort cooling is a major consumer of electricity and is also responsible for a high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in the urban environment. The same publication advocates for the adoption of district cooling as a sustainable energy solution for the modern city.

District cooling is the generation and distribution of cooling energy in the form of chilled water from a central chiller plant to multiple end-user buildings for the purpose of comfort cooling or process cooling. The chilled water produced at the central chiller plant is distributed to the consumers via a network of chilled water distribution piping.

District cooling systems achieve economy of scale by aggregating the cooling loads from a relatively large user-base into a central chiller plant. The large cooling demand seen by the district cooling system allows the adoption of energy efficient technology such as industrial grade high efficiency chillers, series-connected chiller modules, thermal energy storage and cogeneration.

District cooling systems are often structured as energy utilities which provide cooling energy as a service. As a modern, cost-effective and energy efficient cooling energy solution, district cooling delivers numerous benefits to its multiple stakeholders.

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What is District Cooling?

What is District Cooling?

In traditional in-building air-conditioning systems, each building is provided with their own refrigeration systems for producing chilled water. With the exception of a few larger scale developments, the majority of buildings which are smaller in size tend to adopt more energy intensive cooling technologies such as air-cooled packaged units or water cooled chiller units without thermal energy storage system.

District Cooling offers a sustainable and energy efficient solution for the modern urban development. District cooling systems produce cooling energy, in the form of chilled water, at a central chiller plant. The chilled water is supplied to multiple end-user buildings via a piping network for comfort cooling.

District Cooling systems are typically designed as an infrastructure utility service, but they can also be end-user owned.

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