The use of energy for space cooling is growing faster than any other end use in buildings, more than tripling over the past three decades. Global sales of air conditioners (ACs) have been growing steadily and significantly: since 1990, annual sales of ACs nearly quadrupled to 135 million units. There are now more than 1.6 billion in use and keeping them running consumes over 2000 TWh of electricity every year, which is two and a half times the total electricity use of Africa.
Increased AC loads push up not only overall energy needs, but also the need for generation and distribution capacity to meet demand at peak times, placing further stress on the power system. The greatest share of the projected growth in energy use for space cooling by 2050 comes from India, China and Indonesia – contributing half of global cooling energy demand growth. Rigorous action by governments is needed urgently to curb the rapid growth in demand for energy for air conditioning.
On December 12-13 the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (an agency of the government in India) organised an international Energy Efficient Cooling workshop, together with IEA1 and SEAD2, in New Delhi India. The workshop had about 100 attendees and different panellist from all over the world held keynote presentations and participated in the discussion with the audience. Themes for the different sessions were Low energy cold chains and rural cooling perspectives, Efficient Cooling systems, where approaches to mitigate the implications of cooling on the electricity grid as well as possibilities to use district cooling were discussed, Technologies and innovations for space cooling and New Business models and Finance. Caroline Haglund Stignor form Heat Pump Centre participated as a panellist in the workshop and held a presentation about Integrated Approaches to cooling in energy systems. Then she talked about the opportunities for energy and emission savings by taking advantage of both sides of the heat pump cycle and combining it with renewable electricity production and energy storages. In addition, she informed about the ongoing related activities within the Annexes of HPT TCP.
It can be concluded from the workshop that many of the stakeholders in India are aware of the cooling challenge. Measures are taken and an Indian Cooling Action Plan has been established. The Bureau for Energy Efficiency launched already in 2006, a Standards and Labelling program for electric appliances. More and more products have been added to the program and it is mandatory for all type of room air-conditioners since 2018. The most efficient products have five stars on the label and the threshold for gaining the highest rating is increased every second year. The program has so far resulted in large savings of energy, CO2-emissions and money. To be even more successful, end consumers, retailers, service technicians and electricians should be informed and educated about new efficient technologies like inverter controlled ACs. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency is working on this together with a campaign to “cool to 24, not more”. The building code has also been developed in order to halter the increase in energy demand used for comfort cooling in buildings.
There are efficient AC products on the market and the price difference is often not very large. However, in many cases highly energy efficient equipment results in higher upfront cost. To tackle this challenge alternative business models have started to evolve, such as “cooling as a service” and leasing of equipment. To stimulate the development and deployment of energy efficient products and systems it is important to redirect finance from banks and investors, to where it is needed in for subsidies, pilots, demonstration projects and up-scaling initiatives.
During the discussion it was also concluded that to make a difference it is not only about technology, innovations and finance – it is about people making decisions. We have to learn more about behaviour, and we have to educate the consumer to demand something that is better than before. Then the manufacturers will come up with the solutions!
Mrs Vida Rozite from IEA wrapped up the two days by concluding that there had been a lot of brilliant discussions where the different stakeholders shared their different perspectives. Her final remarks were that we need to focus on
- Minimizing the need for cooling, by building and retrofitting appropriate buildings and educate people to do the right selections regarding when, where and how to use it.
- Developing and deploying efficient equipment and systems that are available and affordable and inform people to make appropriate decisions
- Take advantage of the possibilities offered by digitalisation and new evolving business models.
1 International Energy Agency
2 Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment