ADNOC and the National Central Cooling Company PJSC (Tabreed), has announced a breakthrough in the first project in the gulf region to harness geothermal energy following the conclusion of testing on two geothermal wells at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
The landmark project is set to decarbonize the cooling of buildings in Masdar City, further diversify the UAE’s energy mix and support the UAE National Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to grow renewable energy capacity to 14 GW by 2030. The project is enabled by ADNOC’s initial $15 billion allocation towards low carbon solutions and will support its decarbonization plan and net zero by 2045 ambition as well as the Abu Dhabi Climate Change Strategy and UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative.
The wells produced hot water at temperatures exceeding 90 degrees celsius (oC) and flow rates of approximately 100 liters per second (l/s). The hot water generated by the heat from the wells will now pass through an absorption cooling system to produce chilled water, which will then be supplied to Tabreed’s district cooling network at Masdar City, accounting for 10% of its cooling needs.
Musabbeh Al Kaabi, ADNOC Executive Director for Low Carbon Solutions and International Growth, said: “Across ADNOC, we are developing and deploying innovative climate technologies and low carbon solutions to deliver on our accelerated decarbonization plan and net zero by 2045 ambition. Geothermal heat is a clean and renewable source of energy abundantly available in the UAE and capable of providing baseload electricity. However, until now, it has remained an untapped source of energy. By leveraging technological advances, for the first time ADNOC and Tabreed have unlocked this clean energy source to decarbonize one of the most energy intensive sectors in the country.”
Currently, the cooling of buildings accounts for the majority of the UAE’s electricity consumption. District cooling offers a sustainable alternative to traditional cooling methods as it is around 50% more energy efficient in its standard operations. Leveraging geothermal heat for district cooling operations has the potential to significantly reduce electricity demand for cooling from the grid, helping to decarbonize one of the most energy intensive sectors in the region.
Khalid Al Marzooqi, CEO, Tabreed, said: “The integration of geothermal energy with district cooling operations represents a significant advancement in the UAE’s journey towards diversifying its energy mix and achieving net zero by 2050. We are proud of our collaboration with ADNOC to accelerate our decarbonization efforts in the leadup to COP28, which also underscores our commitment to exploring the latest technologies and harnessing the power of renewables to meet the rising demand for sustainable cooling.”
ADNOC is pioneering the development of geothermal energy in the UAE, which can provide a supply of clean baseload energy for electricity generation. Building on the success of the project, ADNOC is also working with several companies to maximize the contribution of geothermal energy in the UAE using the latest drilling and power generation technologies.
District cooling relies on a centralized cooling plant that provides cooling to buildings within its grid. The plant supplies chilled water through a network of underground insulated pipes.