Summer in the city

For those living in the Middle East, the arrival of summer starts a clamour for survival tactics to counteract the high temperatures and humidity.

COMMENT, MEP

For those living in the Middle East, the arrival of summer starts a clamour for survival tactics to counteract the high temperatures and humidity. Spending time outwith an air conditioned area becomes an ordeal; swimming pools must be chilled to remain usable; and for many the answer is to escape to more temperate climes. Behind all of these methods to cope with the climate is a reliance on the success of MEP systems.

Pools would lie empty over the next few months were it not for the supply of chilled water and it is unfeasible to think that any building tenants will switch off their air conditioning systems completely while they are using the spaces. In addition, as this month's feature on Emirates Flight Catering's new facility demonstrates, MEP systems help to meet our summer survival tactics in many less obvious, but nonetheless necessary ways.

As the population in the region grows, so too do these annual demands and consequently the strain on the grid power supplies. But increasing numbers of new technologies and techniques are being developed that can help reduce these power demands while maintaining system criteria and setpoints.

District cooling is now well established in the region as an energy efficient way to provide air conditioning systems on large-scale developments, but manufacturers are also coming up with solutions for smaller scale projects and individual buildings. The use of variable refrigerant flow air conditioning systems is already established in other countries as an efficient cooling method and recent product developments mean that it is now feasible to use the systems in the harsher conditions faced here.

Outside of the selection of plant and system design, one of the most significant impacts that can be made is in the choice energy source. The question of the effectiveness of solar power technologies in this region is now being asked on an almost daily basis. The demand is to make use of the abundant sunshine in the Middle East rather than simply seek refuge from it. And it's not only engineers and environmentalists that are showing an interest: read any local newspaper and solar power technologies are now being mentioned on a regular basis.

Initiatives such as the construction of a 500MW solar power plant in Abu Dhabi could well be the start of a sea change in the region's power supplies. With discussions underway at a local and international level, those in the MEP industry should get prepared for more to come. The demand for summer power will only increase in the future and the systems that you design and install can make all the difference to the efficiency of its use.

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