Keeping cool while the sun shines

A new energy-efficient building research test center in Qatar will investigate how Hydro's aluminium building solutions will perform in the climate extremes of the Middle East.

December 4, 2012

It's hot in Qatar, and humid, and sandy. It takes a lot of energy to keep buildings cool here, and the desert is hard on building exteriors.

Aluminium-based building systems that help manage heat, cooling, and light can go a long way to reducing that energy consumption.

To advance current knowledge, Hydro has established a research and test center for aluminium used in façade solutions in energy-efficient buildings at our joint-venture Qatalum aluminium plant in Qatar.

It was unveiled Monday, while the United Nations opened its Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18) in Qatar.

Bjørn Kjetil Mauritzen, head of Hydro's Climate Office, presented the lab project at the Doha Global Business Day, a premier business event held in connection with United Nations' climate change conferences.

This was the sixth Global Business Day organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) during a UN climate conference.

Aluminium solutions to reduce energy consumption

It is estimated that 40 percent of the world's energy consumption is used to heat or cool buildings. Hydro supplies aluminium solutions to reduce this energy consumption by implementing smart façade systems, which significantly can reduce the need for heating or cooling.

The challenges are different if a building normally requires heating, like in the Nordic climate, or cooling like in the Middle East. The potential for saving energy in Middle East buildings is great.

"We have already proven our systems and built an energy-positive building in Europe, where smart solutions contribute to producing more energy than the building consumes during a year. And more will come. We are installing this facility in Qatar to see the similarities and differences between Europe and Middle East. For instance, will solar shading and solar panels be more important here than in Northern Europe, while that also potentially is more challenging due to sand and humidity," says Armin Baeumler, program manager in Hydro.

Long testing period

The testing facility in Qatar is intended to operate for several years. During this period, test data will be collected and analyzed.

"We are gathering data on outdoor temperature, humidity, indoor temperature and other parameters that are influencing the need for heating, cooling and ventilation. We expect to see huge potentials for the construction of new buildings in the Middle East. However, we need to test these solutions under actual conditions to see how other external factors influence what we see from the installations we have done in Europe," says Baeumler.

In addition to Hydro's test center in Bellenberg, Germany, the Norway-based Powerhouse consortium is planning two energy-positive buildings in Norway. One newbuild in Trondheim is projected to be the world's northernmost energy-positive building. Another project, a renovation in Kjørbo, Norway, aims to be the first renovated buildings that will achieve status as 'energy positive'.

Updated: October 11, 2016