Dubai's Empower plans district cooling projects after $408m loan

Billion-dirham amount is three times higher than Empower's initial expectations and will fund emirate-wide project expansions

Empower operates 75 plants in Dubai and has plans in place to expand its capacity in the emirate.
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Empower operates 75 plants in Dubai and has plans in place to expand its capacity in the emirate.

District cooling energy supplier Empower has entered a $408m (AED1.5bn) loan deal with five banks that will back its upcoming construction in Dubai.

Citibank, Emirates NBD, UAE Standard Chartered, Mashreq, and Samba Financial Group Dubai provided the loan.

The amount secured by Empower is three times higher than the company's initial expectations, which Empower said demonstrates strong appetite for district cooling schemes.

Empower, set up as a joint venture between Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Tecom Investments in 2003, said it would use the loan to expand the capacity of its cooling infrastructure in the emirate.

Developments in Jumeirah Village South, International Media Production Zone, Business Bay, Barsha Heights, and Deira Waterfront Development are among the projects that Empower may seek expansions for.

Empower’s chief executive officer, Ahmad Bin Shafar, said the programme would contribute “to the growth of the district cooling industry”, a sector he described as “one of the safest industries in terms of risk and investment returns”.

Empower signed the loan agreement with creditors in February 2019.

Shafar praised the lenders for supporting Empower’s strategy of developing “a strong infrastructure” in Dubai, which would put the business among the largest district cooling providers in the world. Empower said it would make repayments to creditors every six months.

The company currently operates 75 district cooling plants with a total capacity of more than 1.2 million refrigeration tonnes. District cooling has been growing in popularity in the Middle East due to its greater energy efficiency benefits than traditional air conditioning systems, and its ability to drive cost savings of up to 50%.

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