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Energy Infrastructure

Sustainable and Cool

Dr Adib Moubadder, CEO, Emicool

Emicool employees maintaining district cooling infrastructure in Dubai, UAE

At Emicool, we’re proud to be cooling buildings and transport links at the upcoming COP 28 event. We’re a natural partner for this, as it draws on our record of helping the UAE meet its carbon footprint targets while meeting demand for cooling, healthier living and working environments.

In a region where temperatures can regularly exceed 40 degrees centigrade and humidity can reach up to 98%, cooling systems are essential to the economy and human wellbeing. In the United Arab Emirates where we are based, for example, there is often demand in buildings of more than 2,500 hours a year for cooling. Yet while conventional air conditioning can keep inside temperatures comfortable, it can be energy intensive to run and can struggle to maintain air-quality parameters and humidity levels.


Dr Adib Moubadder, CEO, Emicool

By contrast, Emicool operates a more reliable and energy efficient system that also offers better air quality. While not new, district air cooling systems are now increasingly seen as a way to keep people cool and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At Emicool, our 20 plants pump chilled water (at 5 degrees centigrade) through insulated pipes around residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and industrial buildings, serving more than 50,000 customers. We then pump the warmer water back again for cooling in what is a closed loop system, running through 400 km of pipelines. As a cooling source that is between 30% and 33% more energy efficient than individual conventional systems, our company is contributing to the UAE’s ambitious targets of improving energy efficiency by 40% and reducing its carbon footprint by 70% by 2050.

However, in partnership with Actis, we believe we can do more at Emicool to preserve precious resources and lead the way in sustainable practices. This has always been part of the Emicool strategy. In 2019, for example, we embarked on a plan to move all our fleet vehicles to electric. Today, 68% of our fleet is electric and we are providing new EV charging points open to the general public. We have won multiple awards over the past decade, recognising our resource efficiency efforts, such as leak detection programmes and energy efficiency initiatives and in 2022, we were named a “Great Place to Work” by the International District Energy Association.

Since Actis invested in Emicool in 2022, we have established a new ESG framework under the responsibility of a board-level ESG committee. We are aligned with our investors in setting new and more stretching sustainability targets and we are already starting to see results. For example, water is a precious resource globally and particularly in the Gulf region. We have strict water conservation strategies and one of our aims is to increase the amount of treated sewage water (TSE) instead of potable water we use in our cooling plants. We now have a mix of 45% TSE, up from 30%. We are also making headway on renewable energy use – we already use solar power for some of our operations and we are currently conducting research and development on the viability of wind turbines to help power cooling towers.

We are supporting these efforts with a digital transformation programme that improves communication with customers and helps us manage all stakeholders including in our supply chain and procurement. Our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) digital system (Oracle Fusion) will optimise operations, allowing us to monitor and improve the efficiency of how we use our resources.

Emicool is also committed to social goals. We have established best practice guidelines to provide a healthy and safe environment for workers, that is free from accidents. In addition, we are supporting employment opportunities for local people through training in skilled operations and maintenance – over the past year, we have delivered 4,000 training hours for our employees. In line with our inclusion and diversity policy, we have set targets to increase the number of females we employ, including the potential to hire from the female engineer training programmes we are sponsoring. We have increased female employees by 6% in the past three years.

With the UAE hosting COP 28 this year, we see further opportunities to contribute to the energy transition. Not only will Emicool be cooling thousands of buildings in the Expo village and the metro stations where COP 28 will be held, we intend to play a significant role in the event. As advocates for sustainability, among other initiatives, we will be involved in a committee discussing the climate agenda, sharing experience and helping to foster sustainable best practice.

Having built a strong platform in the UAE, we have plans to expand further into other Gulf countries and beyond. There is high demand for cooling across the region and governments are actively supporting the development of district cooling systems. Other markets in the Middle East, India and the Far East are also promising areas for expansion through organic growth and M&A. The next few years will be an exciting time and we are delighted to have Actis by our side to support us on the journey ahead.

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