Large construction projects require medium to large chillers. Screws are the most important segment of the chiller market, representing more than a half of its value. Centrifugal chillers usually start at 1750 kW, and are set to enjoy the highest long-term growth among all chiller types. BSRIA estimates that their share by value will reach 40 per cent of the chiller market within 3-4 years.
While reciprocating chillers are still in use, their share is diminishing. Scroll chillers are mostly promoted by Carrier, which has the most advanced scroll products. Due to their very high price, absorption chillers are not popular in Saudi Arabia. BSRIA believes these products cost around three times more than any equivalent substitute.
Interestingly, although Saudi's run-out of district cooling projects has slowed, there are many new projects that are planning to use these systems. King Saud University in Riyadh, Girls University in Riyadh, King Abdullah Economic City and many others will fuel the demand for district cooling in the next several years. Large (7 MW) centrifugal chillers tend to be used to serve the district cooling systems.
Over the last few years, sales of single-splits in Saudi Arabia have enjoyed high growth in all product categories and capacities. However, the lack of privately-funded investments in the residential sector almost halted this growth, which is highly dependent on the construction of new homes.
It is expected that the market for multi-splits will grow at a high pace albeit from a very low base. Once the market reaches a few thousand units, the growth rate will start to follow the growth of the chiller market.
Variable refrigerant flow (vrf) air-conditioning systems are beginning to make their mark in the whole Middle East region. The market for these products is set to grow at the highest rate among all air-conditioning products in the country. Until 2008, only Daikin was in this market, but now LG has introduced vrf products. Other competitors are likely to follow suit.
As the boom in the telecoms sector ceased a few years ago and private investment dropped significantly in the second half of 2008, BSRIA believes that the close controls market growth will be moderate over the next few years. The market is divided between smaller units dedicated to small telecom shelters and larger units used for computer rooms.
VRF units are almost always used in the commercial sector (notably hotels and office blocks), although some small percentage of sales end up in the residential market where affluent owners insist on having high-tech products.
Although the Saudi Arabian government ratified the Montreal Protocol, the HCFC phase-out target has not been fixed. SASO, the Saudi Arabian Standard Organisation, will drive the HCFC phase-out. However, due to the inability of local players to make the switch promptly, legislation has been put on hold.
All packaged products (apart from VRFs which are all R410A) sold in Saudi Arabia are fitted with the HCFC R22 refrigerant. Conversely, R134A is predominant in chillers. Global production is shifting away from R22 towards R410A, and this refrigerant will soon predominate.
BSRIA believes that ducted splits will start changing to R410A within the next 3-4 years because the local market will become increasingly dependant on imports. When the switch eventually happens, the industry will go straight to R410A refrigerants, bypassing R407C.
David Garwood is a market researcher at BSRIA. This article is based on research carried out by Dusan Antonijevic for BSRIA.
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