Shaik Zayed Desert Learning Center

Coolinf in the desert - solar cooling as major part of a sensible combination

The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center (SZDLC) was realized as part of a a gigantic tourism project – a 400 hectare wildlife park and resort with hotels, theme parks, living areas and the associated infrastructure – in the city of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The project was based on sustainability criteria. The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center was the first object to be realized, which is designed as a museum and research center for desert landscapes and environmental issues. This architecturally and technically highly innovative building demonstrates that sustainable building concepts can also be implemented in the desert. SOLID´s installed Solar cooling system is a key technology in this project. Solar cooling is a key technology to cover high cooling loads, especially in sun belt regions. Thanks to the sensible combination of active and passive use of solar energy, this project was able to meet the highest criteria in terms of sustainability.

The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre is an integral part of the Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort, located in the United Arab Emirates. This center serves as a venue to convey the natural and cultural history of deserts.

The building with its extraordinary appearance was designed to reduce life cycle costs and environmental impact.

The project was developed and implemented mainly by Austrian Companies (Chalabi Architekten & Partner, STRABA AG, SOLID, ertex solar GmbH, Bartenbach GmbH, iC consulenten ZT GmbH, Bollinger, Grohman & Schneider ZT GmbH).

SOLID and iC Consultants, Austrian pioneers in the field of renewable energy, were charged to design & engineer a sustainable energy supply for this building and furthermore SOLID has been awarded the contract for the installation of the solar thermal cooling system.

SOLID designed and installed the solar cooling system which covers a considerable demand of the overall cooling load. The solar thermal driven cooling supplies the concrete core activation for cooling at a set point of 16°C.

The solar thermal collecors have been ground mounted next to the building. The specific requirements and challenges in the desert climate were special.

To meet the re-cooling requirements of the compression and absorption chillers, six closed-circuit cooling towers with adiabatic pre-cooling are installed. These cooling towers are designed to minimize water consumption while still having the ability to cool below the ambient dry-bulb temperature.

The installed system delivers comfortable indoor climate. Together with the PV System, the solar thermal driven cooling system reduces life cycle impact both on an ecological and economic level. Due to the ideal irradiation conditions, the efficiency of the system is outstanding.

Technical Specifications


CO2 Savings
210 t/a

Collector area
1134 m²

26 m³

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