Energy demand for cooling indoor spaces to temperatures fit for man and machine is rising fast. It does not have to. Better air conditioning equipment, its correct installation and enforcement of tougher standards for both would rapidly reduce energy use. For that to happen, political action on rules and regulations is urgently needed before cooling becomes a significant accelerator of global warming
Wake up call: The market for keeping buildings cool is exploding and flooding the world with substandard energy hungry solutions
Smell the coffee: Energy efficiency improvements through the introduction of mandatory norms for cooling equipment could halve energy growth from air conditioning
Bring back shade: Better designed buildings, more space between them, sun protection for roofs and introduction of urban greenery all reduce energy use
Key quote: “This is a performance standards issue.”
As the world warms, the need for cooling will escalate as people struggle to avoid heat stress, keep vital medicines at stable temperatures and create cool ambient operating conditions for machines and data centres. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts ten air conditioning units will be sold every second for the next 30 years, placing extra load on electricity systems and driving up emissions. More efficient use of electricity, enforcement of standards, standardisation of air conditioning unit design, architecture apt for creating cooler buildings and urban greenery for shade could help reduce demand.
Use of energy for cooling buildings is increasing and IEA figures tracking the trend make for sober reading. Since 2000, energy for cooling has doubled in buildings worldwide from 3.6 exajoules (EJ) to seven EJ. Air conditioners and electric fans now account for nearly 20% of total electricity consumption in buildings. While 90% of households in the US and 60% in China have air conditioning (AC), this figure falls to 8% in the hottest parts of the world. As temperatures rise and disposable incomes increase, the number of AC units in use is predicted to rise from today’s 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion in 2050, requiring the equivalent of the current combined electricity capacity of the EU, the US and Japan, says the IEA.
Global year end AC sales for 2017 were worth $102 billion, says BRISA, a UK-based building services and research organisation. China, the US and Japan topped the sales charts, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for the largest share of AC units with 58% of global value. Growth in the coming years will be led by Indonesia, India and the Middle East, forecasts the IEA. ...
With a subscription you not only buy perspectives on the energy transition unavailable elsewhere, you also support independent and much needed expert journalism focused on achieving a global decarbonised energy economy
Learn about group pricing. Click this link
Building design is key to reducing demand for energy guzzling air conditioning
In an interview with FORESIGHT, Dominique Ristori, Director General for Energy in the European Commission, explains why Europe’s heating system is too old and dirty
Applying large heat pumps in industry is in its early days, but interest is increasing
A UK start-up believes its rooftop solar photovoltaic thermal technology can help decarbonise buildings
Qarnot, a small company based outside Paris, France, is developing computing products that generate heat close to the end user
Solar photovoltaic has clear potential to help decarbonise cooling and, in some climates, contribute significantly to the energy transition in heating
Using waste heat from large data centres to heat homes and offices may seem like a no-brainer, but making a business case for getting heat from out-of-town data centres to urban areas at a correct temperature is complicated and costly
The Netherlands faces an unprecedented transformation as it aims in the next 30 years to switch off its gas supplies in favour of cleaner fuels
Geothermal heating has plenty of potential as a long-term solution to decarbonise heating and cooling systems