WATER-FREE COOLING FOR A MAJOR MIDDLE EAST TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

WATER-FREE COOLING FOR A MAJOR MIDDLE EAST TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

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As the world shifts away from fossil fuels and transfers to green energy, countries whose economies have long been reliant on hydrocarbons are having to find ways to diversify. This is particularly true for Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest oil producer, where oil revenue accounts for as much as 40% of GDP. And for this reason, in 2016, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced the launch of Vision 2030, a development programme aimed at increasing public service sectors such as education, infrastructure and tourism, while also boosting non-oil-based international trade.

Some gigantic construction projects are part of the programme, including The Red Sea, a luxury tourism development currently being built on a group of islands off the country’s west coast. The first phase is due for completion in 2024, and when the entire project is finished, there will be around 50 hotels with 8,000 rooms, as well as more than 1,000 residential properties. A new airport is also being built, together with a marina and recreational facilities. In all, the development is projected to attract around one million tourists annually from 2030, and to add more than $6 billion per year to Saudi GDP. It is a hugely ambitious project, as all of the construction will take place in currently uninhabited areas.

The Red Sea concept has sustainability at its heart, which was a major consideration when planning the infrastructure. All the electricity will come from renewable sources, mainly solar, while the use of water will be minimised. This also applies to the cooling systems for both the island development and a new coastal village on the mainland being constructed to house resort workers.


“WE NEEDED A SOLUTION THAT COULD DO THE COOLING THAT WAS REQUIRED – WHICH IS A LOT OF COOLING – BUT WITHOUT THE USE OF WATER. AND GÜNTNER TECHNOLOGY PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THIS.”

CARLOS DE CEBALLOS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, ARANER


Spanish company Araner was the technology provider tasked with solving the water-free cooling challenge. It is an expert in the field of sustainable, reliable and cost-effective district cooling using turbo compressors. District cooling systems usually rely on cooling towers that use water as the coolant fluid – and that means a lot of water. However, Araner has developed a special technology for district cooling that works together with Güntner V-shape VARIO Dry Coolers. It’s a high-capacity, high-efficiency solution that uses only refrigerant and no water, with heat rejected to the ambient air. It also saves energy, because a water pump is not required. The Güntner Dry Coolers have the added bonus of special corrosion protection for onshore marine environments.

The cooling systems in the Red Sea project use a combined total of 132 Güntner Dry Coolers, each with 18 fans. “This is the biggest district cooling project that we have done using dry cooling,” says de Ceballos. “And we have achieved the best efficiency in a plant of this kind up to this point.”

Güntner’s ability to supply such a large number of units over a short time scale with rigid deadlines was key to the success of the project, de Ceballos adds. “Obviously the most important reason for using Güntner units was their quality and reliability,” he says. “But we also needed a supplier with the large-scale capacity to deliver for such a huge project.”


“WE HAD TO SUPPLY 132 HEAT EXCHANGERS AND THE DEADLINES WERE TIGHT, WHICH MEANT WE WERE DELIVERING EIGHT UNITS A WEEK. MOST COMPANIES WOULD STRUGGLE TO SUPPLY TWO OR THREE A WEEK. IT WAS REALLY CHALLENGING FOR US AS A MANUFACTURER, BUT EVERYTHING WAS DONE ON TIME.”

AITOR ETXEBERRIA
COO, REFRICOMP, GÜNTNER REPRESENTATIVE IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL


The Dry Coolers for the coastal village district cooling system are already up and running, while those for the islands will be ready by the end of 2023.