Amman, Jordan’s capital, is a city of more than 4 million people in the midst of a $5 billion project to create a new downtown district, called Abdali. This modern, energy-efficient hub of international business encompasses more than 2 million sq m (21.5 million sq ft) of built space in hotels, residences, offices, retail outlets, entertainment venues and medical facilities. The development is bringing luxury high-rise buildings to the landscape of a city historically characterized by small low-rise structures.
It also aims to make Abdali a travel destination in its own right, drawing more tourists to Amman, especially among those who visit Jordan for its ancient ruins and natural wonders. This prestige project officially broke ground in 2006 for construction of the centerpiece of the new downtown: The Boulevard, a 370-m-long (1,214-ft-long) pedestrian “spine” lined with mixed-use buildings. That same year, Jordan District Energy (JDE) was formed to provide district cooling and heating services in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The company announced it would invest more than $100 million to develop its first project: a district energy system to keep Abdali residents and tenants comfortable during Amman’s hot summers and relatively cold winters, when snow is possible. (January high temperatures average 12 degrees C [54 F] in Amman, and nighttime lows can drop below freezing.) Headquartered in Amman, JDE is the first company to introduce district cooling and heating in Jordan and the Levant. Early on, as the building of Abdali progressed, JDE installed a temporary district energy plant and 5 km (3.1 miles) of distribution piping to serve the first phase of construction. In 2014, the company engaged an engineering/procurement/construction contractor to design and build the permanent central cooling and heating plant for the project. Commencing operation during 2016, it is designed to meet a peak chilled-water cooling capacity of 31,000 tons, including 180,000 ton-hr of chilled-water thermal energy storage; and it has a hot water district heating capacity of 53,000 kW (more than 180 MMBtu/hr). The company’s full portfolio of assets – district cooling, thermal energy storage and even district heating – creates a variety of opportunities to optimize the systems and leverage them as needed to serve customers. Water scarcity was a primary consideration in the cooling system design, as Jordan is one of the driest countries in the world. The company installed four air-cooled condensers and screw chillers, totaling 10,000 tons of cooling capacity, with the chilled-water storage enabling chillers to run during off-peak hours. While the traditional configuration of centrifugal chillers paired with cooling towers is typically more efficient than air-cooled chillers, cooling towers have a high rate of water consumption. A potential solution considered was for JDE to utilize gray water from the municipality, treated in a water treatment plant within the district energy plant. That had the drawback, however, of significant costs to build and operate the water treatment plant (as well as the undesirability of some odors in the midst of the new upscale downtown). Currently, JDE supplies district cooling and heating to 18 customer buildings in Abdali. In addition to the buildings along The Boulevard pedestrian promenade, like Arjaan by Rotana, other customers include Abdali Mall; Amman Rotana and W hotels; Abdali Clemenceau Hospital; The Heights and The Lofts luxury residences by Damac; CAMPBELL GRAY Residential & Office Towers by Al Seraje; and a serviced apartment building by Al Waleed Real Estate. The development of Amman’s vibrant new downtown continues. Most of Phase 1 construction has finished, and the master plan for Phase 2 is currently under study. Jordan District Energy will be ready to serve new development in Abdali with equipment redundancy enhancements and additional chilled- and hot water thermal energy storage.