District cooling is attractive to developers, as it is a convenient service that contributes to the environmental sustainability of the buildings and the area. The benefits of district cooling becomes evident when looking at profile buildings where roof tops and terraces are used as outdoor restaurants and recreational areas for conference guests and tenants. If district cooling wasn’t available there would be noisy and bulky equipment like cooling towers, compressors and fans installed in these areas, disturbing the peace and ruining the views and spaces.
District cooling as corner stone in new sea front developments
Spectacular sea front developments are now taking shape in the city of Helsingborg, and district cooling is one of the corner stones. “These developments are very good examples of how district energy contributes to a sustainable society, and how we at Devcco contribute with our business management services”, says Joakim Nilsson, who has been the lead consultant on the project.
The two sea front developments in the city centre of Helsingborg are in the final stages of construction. The largest development is the Ocean harbour (“Oceanhamnen”) which is part of the most ambitious city development project in the history of the city called H+. The Ocean harbour will be a new district with housing, offices, restaurants and trade near the water, where everything is built with a clear focus on the environment and sustainability.
The other central development area is the Northern harbour where the steam ferry site is the last stage in the development. When the whole area is ready, there will be housing, a congress and a hotel facility, walking paths along the quay and a completely new park. In this area, the congress and hotel facility SeaU, which opened its doors in February this year, stands out with its iconic architecture. At the top floor there is a rooftop bar and there is also an outdoor pool at the lower volume between the hotel and the congress facilities.
“Our role in this has been as advisors and interim management to Öresundskraft, which is the local energy company and supplier of district energy”, says Joakim Nilsson, partner at Devcco. “We have participated first in the re-engineering of the district cooling business and then in the marketing and sales process of the upgraded district cooling product”.
The business re-engineering made it possible to meet the growing demand for cooling and air conditioning in time for the various city developments, but also for existing customers with increasing demand. An important outcome of the re-engineering is the ability to provide a sustainable product by utilising sea water cooling and surplus heat to produce the cooling. The new district cooling has since been awarded with two international prizes for its environmental benefits and innovative solutions.
“Since then we have also provided business management, market assessment, sales support and other services working as an integrated part of our customer’s team”, says Joakim.
“We really like working this close since it helps us being pro-active and bringing value to our customers based on our long experience from managing and developing district cooling businesses.”
District cooling requires more than a technical focus
Typical challenges in developing and re-engineering district cooling are getting access and permits to sustainable sourcing on one hand, and demonstrating that the business is competitive and profitable to the main stakeholders on the other. Including a consultant, who is experienced in both fields and knows the pitfalls and what aspects that need special attention to deliver successful projects and businesses, can be the answer to overcome these typical challenges. “Too often, development of district cooling is only viewed as technology projects where engineering gets all the attention, and the organisations miss out on working with a wider approach. The guiding stars in business cases should be sustainability and profitability so you are able to take on all, not just the technical, challenges in each case”, says Joakim.
Devcco works closely with the customers in managing internal and external decision processes which includes both a technical and business approach. By doing so, the decision makers will have relevant and accurate information during every phase, and they will be aware of the risks and possibilities ahead. Devcco also contributes in making the end users of district cooling understand the value of the service as compared to their business as usual alternatives.
It can be time consuming and complex to secure the energy sources and permits that are often necessary to successfully implement sustainable and profitable district cooling. Environmentally sustainable solutions are a key success factor, and this also means making sure that potential side effects are avoided. In many cases, environmental impact assessments are required where it can be benefitial to have the guidance from a consultant, who is able to coordinate with expertise from various fields. “Access to natural and industrial sources are not always free, and here we have gained a lot of experience from projects in many locations and countries in negotiating with resource owners”, says Joakim.
“At Devcco, we strongly believe that district cooling can play an important role in the development of other urban developments and city renewal projects as well.”
“We know it as a fact, from our participation in continental Europe and from mega projects in the middle east and the North Africa region, but there are many promising locations in the Scandinavian countries as well. In Denmark and Norway where district cooling is just about to take off at a large scale we see a great potential”, says Lars Hargö, CEO at Devcco.