Cooling demand could almost double energy use by 2050

Rising demand for cooling could see more than a 90 per cent jump in energy use by 2050 that would consume all the worlds predicted solar PV capacity, it was revealed today (Weds 18).

More than 100 cooling and energy efficiency decision-makers and experts were in attendance at the world’s first congress on ‘clean cold’ to discuss the urgent topic of how to meet our global demand for cooling sustainably.

The event revealed that by 2050 around 9.5 billion cooling appliances would increase global energy demand for cooling to 7,500 TerawattHours (TWh) from the 2017 level of 3,900 TWh, after allowing for the development of more efficient cooling technologies.

Furthermore, without decarbonising electricity production, the spike in demand would result in an extra 2.5 GigaTonnes (GT) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere each year, bringing the total amount of CO2 from cooling to more than 6GT, which equates to nearly 50 per cent of the world’s total target for direct Co2 emissions for 2050.

Speaking at the congress at the University of Birmingham, Professor Toby Peters explained how soaring carbon emissions from cooling are only half the picture.

“Under these projections much of the world would still only have low penetration levels of cooling. We would still have high levels of food loss, more of countries experiencing life threatening temperatures with no cooling and medicines and vaccines spoiled in the supply chain.

“If we are to sustainably deliver cooling for all, we must stop thinking that green electricity and technology efficiency can meet the demand alone. Unless we think thermally, not just electrically, we are sitting on a carbon time-bomb.

“The challenge is how to embed this approach quickly enough to avoid investment in conventional equipment that locks in cooling emissions for years or decades.”

Thomas Tomski, Vice President Marketing at Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions, states that of the biggest challenges to the transition to clean cooling is skills.

“The European Commission has already reported a significant skills gap in low GWP refrigerants, and the challenge will be even greater in emerging markets.

“We need more investment in training engineers on the installation and maintenance of cooling systems in order to ensure they are sustainable. When choosing a new refrigeration system, retailers should also consider integral systems for accelerated roll-out.

“Since these systems are self-contained, easy to install and remove, and require little maintenance, they offer a solution where skills are a challenge.”

The two-day 'Cool World' conference is taking place over the April 18 and 19 with delegates hearing from a range of speakers including Ian Crosby, Head of Cooling for All, an initiative created by Sustainable Energy for All and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program, who will be identifying the challenges and opportunities of providing access to affordable, sustainable cooling solutions for all.

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