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Empower to add district cooling capacity in Dubai

District cooling firm Empower plans to make an acquisition and expand its existing plants as it looks to add capacity to its operations in Dubai, its chief executive said.

“We are working towards a new acquisition, but [this is] still not concrete,” said Ahmad bin Shafar. “We are still in discussions. It might be any time before the first quarter of next year.”

He declined to name the acquisition target.

In January, Empower bought rival Palm Utilities for US$500 million from Istithmar World in the biggest acquisition of its kind for the industry.

District cooling is regarded as a more environmentally friendly way for residential villas, apartments and offices because it uses less electricity than traditional air conditioning.

District cooling requires a plant that cools water, which is then channelled to villa complexes or high-rises, replacing individual air-conditioned units with blanket coverage.

Empower, which is owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone, is also expanding its existing operations by adding three to four plants starting next year.

“We have three or four plant rooms under design, which may hit the ground any time from January onward,” said Mr bin Shafar.

“Maybe by the end of next year if we go in the same tone we will hit around 100,000 extra [refrigeration tonnes].”

Financing of the projects depends on each plant, but they may be 70 per cent funded by debt and 30 per cent by equity, he added.

Empower, which was set up in 2003, currently operates 1 million refrigeration tonnes capacity in developments that include Business Bay, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai International Financial Centre.

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