Published On: Mon, Nov 5th, 2012

Curaçao Airport Seawater Air-Conditioning: A Great Opportunity For The Airport And Curaçao

WILLEMSTAD – The Curaçao Airport Seawater Air-conditioning (SWAC) Project is progressing well and is one step closer to realisation.

The initial studies show that based on the current information, the SWAC project can be feasibly built and operated. As part of the technical feasibility analyses of the project and in cooperation with the cable route survey of UTS, CAH has performed an initial reconnaissance seabed survey. Furthermore CAH and Aqualectra have agreed to cooperate with each other in order to maximize synergy in the development and realization of both the Airport and Piscadera seawater air-conditioning projects. Ecopower International BV is developing the SWAC project for Curaçao Airport Holding (CAH).

Project Update
Recently different site visits to Hawaii and New York (Ithaca) took place by representatives of the board and management of CAH, where existing operational SWAC and deep seawater pipelines were visited and assessed.
At the moment a peer review is being performed on the proposed SWAC system to validate the initial feasibility. Parallel to this, the business case for the potential of deep seawater related industry; the so-called Ecopark (comprising of aqua- and aquaculture etc.), is being developed to quantify the potential spin-off/up-sides.

Since the second half of October, Hato Handling and Swissport have joined the Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), the operator of the Curaçao International Airport facilities and the Curaçao Technology Exchange (CTEX) in their commitment to the project.

Jointly they represent ca. 75% of the total projected capacity of the proposed SWAC system. For CTEX, this system also aligns with its effort to become one of the greenest data centres in the region. CTEX is currently developing a top-tier data centre facility to service domestic and international customers located in the Caribbean and Latin America. For CAP SWAC is an opportunity to present itself as one of the most Green Airports. Hato Handling and Swissport could use the SWAC to expand into new business opportunities, which require more cooling demand. It is expected that for potential clients, the system could result in a long term cost reduction for cooling of over 50%.

The characteristic of a seawater air-conditioning system, contrary to conventional cooling systems, is that the cost for cooling (per unit) will reduce if the cooling demand increases (larger the number of clients and thus required cooling capacity). For this reason we need a firm commitment of a minimum number of clients for the seawater air-conditioning system to be able to feasibly built and operate the system. All clients who join already during this start-up period, will get more favorable conditions. When the full capacity of the system would be used, after the realisation of the Airport City and the development of the deep seawater industry in the Curaçao Ecopark, the envisioned equivalent cost for cooling for these clients could drop to as low as 0.10-0.15 ANG/kWh.

It is the intention to get the commitment for the remaining 25% of the capacity needed, in the coming months.
When all requirements (including the commitment of the minimum number of clients, positive peer review, Ecopark business case and approval of the board) have been met, CAH intends to start the next phase. The next phase in the realization of the Airport project would be the development and contracting phase. This phase will consist of all activities like engineering, permitting, procurement, contracting and financing, which should lead to the financial closure of the project.
The construction that follows this phase is expected to take ca. 12-18 months, which would result in a commercial operations date of Q4 2014 / beginning of 2015.

Deep Seawater Industry a new economic pillar for Curaçao
Maurices Adriaens “The effluent water (16 million m3 year) of the Seawater Air-conditioning system is also the input for the Deep Seawater Industry or so called Ecopark. Activities which will be developed here are Agriculture (greenhouses which can produce an important part of the vegetables needed on the island), Aquaculture (shrimp farming, lobster storage etc.), Micro Algae farms for the pharmaceutical industry, deep seawater desalination and R&D facilities like Ocean Thermal Energy conversion (OTEC).

On Hawaii at NELHA, a deep seawater industry has been developed over the past 30 years. The total economic output to the Hawaii economy was $87.7 million dollars, which generated $4.5 million dollars in state tax revenue for 2010. NELHA tenants employ hundreds of people and their expenditures contributed to hundreds of other jobs in the Hawaii economy. It is estimated that NELHA generated 583 jobs in Hawaii in 2010. NELHA also has in-house Hawaii’s biggest exporter (bottled water to Japan, Koyo USA Corp.), grossing 140MUSD annually, and has seen an increase this year of 20%, due to the earthquake and tsunami. The envisioned CAH Seawater Air-conditioning system will pump an equivalent of ca. 70% of the water NELHA is currently selling annually”.

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