Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Your Toes Cool in Dubai

Palazzo Versace We’re not terribly critical of energy end users, though our father certainly could be if we let out the air conditioning by leaving the front door open too long.

But even we might find our limit. This caught our eye while we were working on a story about the proposed 123 agreement between the U.S. and UAE (we’ll have more on that later):

Versace, the renowned fashion house, has defended its proposal to build the world’s first refrigerated beach in Dubai...

Why defend the indefensible? Just plow ahead and hope for the best.

The beach, next to the new Palazzo Versace hotel overlooking Dubai Creek, is expected to be artificially cooled to avoid Dubai’s searing summer temperatures.

Proposals have included a cooling system under the sand and blowing in cooled air from the Versace hotel.

That last part would really make Dad holler. One has to wonder how cold they’d have to keep the hotel to share its cooling with an open beach.

As you might guess, this hasn’t gone over very well and you scarcely need an environmentalist to point out its flaws. None the less:

Prominent Dubai-based environmentalist, Nils Al Accad, founder of Dubai Organic Foods and Café … slammed the proposals.

“If it was sand beside a swimming pool, you might have some chance, but cooling a whole beach is completely wasteful, a disaster,” he said.

But of course, so much can be spun, if not always plausibly, greenly:

He [Al Accad] made his comments after Soheil Abedian, the founder and president of Palazzo Versace’s developer, Sunland, told the London Sunday Times that he wanted to create an environmentally sustainable cooled beach.

Good luck on that! Let’s get the nuclear energy plants built first. Abedian does let slip, like the dogs of war, the more likely reason behind this:

“This is the kind of luxury that top people want.”

So if you want it, you get a little energy class warfare to toy with. Truly, this is a story with multiple angles, all of them a different shade of ghastly. We suspect Versace will let, uh, cooler heads prevail, but in the meantime, the entertainment value here is boundless.

A room at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai. We suspect this is called the Orange Room. Maybe orange is a color “top people” like.


Kirk Sorensen said...

I thought about this a little bit and realized it could potentially be a really good idea. What we forget in our haste to condemn the rich residents of Dubai is that this "refrigerated beach" is sitting right next to an unlimited thermal heat sink--the ocean.

In that dry desert air, an evaporative cooling system would be exceptionally effective, and seawater could be evaporated in a way that would chill a working fluid that would be circulated under the beach.

In a similar manner, the much-derided "indoor ski resort" in Dubai also makes a lot of sense. Using relatively cold ocean water for the heat sink, the refrigeration system for the ski resort becomes VERY effective. With that huge indoor volume, the volume-to-surface-area ratio also becomes highly favorable, which minimizes the heat leak within.

When one considers how many airplane flights (with their associated carbon emissions) are being prevented by the local ski option there in Dubai, it's entirely likely that this whole scheme could end up being a real net benefit for the planet!

Ray Lightning said...

you have got some good points Kirk. The ocean can be used very well as a heat sink, and we need to develop technologies to do some natural air-conditioning, if you will..

But Dubai is not the place to think about global warming, CO2 emissions and the like. They transform petrol to drinking water by desalination plants (and sometimes use this water for horticulture and agriculture). Sustainable and Dubai are not to be mentioned in the same sentence. The attitude is more like "let's party until the oil lasts".

George Carty said...

Using oil to power desalination is insanely wasteful. Why not use nuclear or solar power (the latter if they're worried about another Osirak)?