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Cooling appliances to rise to 14 billion by 2050, University of Birmingham study says

Global quadrupling of cooling appliances could cause a staggering increase in energy consumption, report’s authors say

| | Jul 15, 2018 | 2:03 pm
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Birmingham, UK, 15 July 2018: Soaring global demand for cooling by 2050 could see world energy consumption for cooling increase by 90%, as the number of cooling appliances quadruples to 14 billion, according to a recent report by the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The report sets out to provide, for the first time, an indication of the scale of the energy implications of ‘Cooling for All’, the university said through a Press communiqué. With increasing populations, expanding urbanisation and climate change impacts leading to more frequent heatwaves and temperature rises, the demand for more cooling will increase in the decades ahead, the communiqué further said.

According to the University of Birmingham, there are currently 3.6 billion cooling appliances around the world, and the report’s authors forecast that the 14 billion devices needed by 2050 will consume three times the amount of energy currently predicted for cooling usage.

The report, ‘A Cool World – Defining the Energy Conundrum of “Cooling for All”’, states that, by 2050, without action beyond current technology capabilities and efficiency gains, cooling could account for 19,600 TWh of energy consumption per year, against a current annual world ‘cooling budget’ of 6,300 TWh, the communiqué said. Even with new technologies coming on board, the annual energy requirement will be 15,500 TWh, the communiqué further said.

One of the report’s authors, Professor Toby Peters, University of Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “Current projections do not consider a ‘Cooling for All’ scenario, and it will be impossible to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals as well as the Paris climate change targets. If we are to meet either of these, relying on technology efficiency and greening electricity won’t be sufficient. The challenge now is how to start with a system-led approach, better harnessing a portfolio of energy resources and adopting novel technologies. In order to achieve this, we need to start by asking ourselves a new question – no longer ‘how much electricity do we need to generate’ but rather ‘what is the service we require, and how can we provide it in the least damaging way.”

According to the University of Birmingham:

  • Under the current scenario, over the next 30 years, 19 cooling appliances will be sold every second; but this will not deliver ‘Cooling for All’.
  • By 2050, we would require a total of 14 billion cooling appliances globally to meet demand – an additional 4.5 billion appliances, compared to the baseline forecast of 9.5bn – or four times as many pieces of cooling equipment than are in use today.

According to the University of Birmingham, the report says, if we are to take cooling demand seriously, the key stages to move towards a solution for cooling demand are:

  • Reducing the energy required for cooling: Getting industry to adopt high-efficiency cooling technologies and using maintenance to deliver optimum performance.
  • Reducing the need for cooling through better building design
  • Systems-level thinking across built-environment and transport
  • Harnessing waste resources: ‘wrong time’ renewables; waste cold; and waste heat.
  • Considering the strategies and skills required for installing appliances and maintaining them in order to maximise efficiency and reduce energy demand
  • Creating a model for delivery of affordable cooling to those in rural and urban communities based on the energy needs of local requirements, rather than imposing a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The report’s authors call for the creation of a series of real world ‘Living Labs’, which will engage at community level, testing and demonstrating not only new technologies, but also the socio, business, governance, policy and funding models, the communiqué said. This will ensure that new thinking on systems, innovations and business models can be properly designed and tested, the communiqué further said. They also urge the creation of an international centre for excellence with an aim to deliver global collaboration on cooling, the communiqué added.

The report builds on the University’s research partnerships in India and the University of Birmingham recently signed an agreement with the State Government of Haryana to advance the use of ‘clean cold’ technology in India and help meet rising demand for cooling sustainably, the communiqué said.

The communiqué also said this landmark agreement followed the world’s first-ever Congress on Clean Cold, held at the University of Birmingham last month, supported by the University’s India Institute, which also sponsored the first Birmingham-Haryana clean cold workshop last year.


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