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Special Report: Market ripe for energy-efficient HVAC tech

Industry leaders talk about some of the technologies in the HVAC sector and other drivers for efficient systems

SPECIAL REPORTS, MEP, Building technology, Energy efficiency, Green building technology, Technology

Energy-efficiency regulations, green projects and a rising trend for energy prices are the main market drivers for the HVAC market, says Michel Farah, director of corporate environmental and social responsibility, Daikin Middle East and Africa.

Farah claims that variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems have seen the highest sales growth rates when compared to other DX or chilled water product groups. He says: “The [VRF] market has grown from 5,000 systems to around 25,000 systems per year during the past five years with an exceptionally high rate during the past three years, according to JARN (Japan Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News).”

From Levent Taşkın’s perspective digitalisation has been a game changer for the HVAC industry. Taşkın, who is the president of Danfoss Turkey, Middle East and Africa, says: “We can already see that big data and analytics allow us to apply technology in a more intelligent way, leverage efficiency gains, and access cooling capacities that were underutilised before. For Danfoss, the digital fast lane leads to even more flexible production and faster design of new technologies. Applications are becoming increasingly digitalised, and more connected via apps and computers. I believe that we’ll see more electronics than mechanics in shafts, leading to smarter, more energy-efficient solutions in the HVAC sector.”

Market

Taşkın adds that as in most countries in the Middle East, the main market driver for energy-efficient HVAC systems in the GCC is the construction sector, followed by transportation, water and waste-water projects.

With the construction sector being a key driver for the HVAC market, the market is expected to grow, based on insights from analysts BMI Research. Taşkın says: “The region’s construction market is expected to grow at a faster pace than any other region in the world this year, with buoyant markets in the UAE, Oman and Egypt powering 6% overall growth in the Middle East in 2017. This is up from 5.3% last year and poses a great opportunity for companies within the HVAC sector.”

Talking about the challenges facing the HVAC sector, Taşkın comments: “One of the greatest challenges that the industry faces today is that of total integration of the building system, due to a very narrow outlook towards environmental, social and economic concerns. Building systems and processes need to be integrated at every stage.

Also, there is a lack of awareness amongst the general public on the benefits of clean indoor air, and a lack of education on the importance of utilising energy-efficient HVAC systems.”

However, Taşkın reiterates that digitalisation in the sector has opened-up new business opportunities and the transition towards more connected and smarter products is a catalyst for driving increased customer value.

Innovations

Farah says that inverter technology and low global warming refrigerants are the two main innovations that modern HVAC systems are embracing with a higher impact on comfort while combating climate change.

He says: “By lowering emissions and reducing energy consumption for a superior comfort level, such technologies could reduce the environmental impact of an air conditioner by at least 40%. The impact of energy-efficient systems is very important to the whole power grid as air conditioners consume more than 60% of the total building energy.”

Wireless connectivity will play a very large role in the future of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), adds Taşkın. However, he says: “At a point where technology is currently being used in industrial automation, you’ll see very little sign of it except for the occasional bluetooth device or 3G/4G access point in remote installations.

“Nevertheless, there’s a large existing foundation of wired interconnectivity that can be built upon to move today’s systems toward a true IIoT experience.”

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