Heating is a major contributor to modern energy consumption. We like to keep our homes, workplaces and business we attend nice and comfortable. That takes a lot of energy.
Only we're in a warming world, one that has a long way to go yet. This means we're going to need a lot of cooling: refrigeration and air conditioning to handle the heat. It's not estimated that, by mid-century, we'll be using more energy for cooling than for heating.
Energy use for air conditioning, refrigeration and other cooling appliances will jump 90% on 2017 levels, experts estimated, posing a challenge for energy grids and efforts to curb climate change.
The University of Birmingham said the rise would come even with conservative estimates of how much demand for cooling was likely to increase in China, India and hotter countries.
“Cooling just really isn’t part of the big debate. And yet we lose 200m tonnes of food each year because of a lack of cooling. That has massive repercussions,” said Toby Peters, a professor in power and cold economy, working at the university, who is also part of the Birmingham Energy Institute.Even Britain is in store for an air-conditioning makeover.
The institute will host the first ever conference on “clean cold” on Wednesday, exploring how to tackle the problem and boost the 0.2% of energy R&D budgets spend on cooling.
The biggest energy demand for cooling comes from air conditioning to keep people comfortable, but it is also essential for stopping food from going to waste and protecting medicines.
While air conditioning in UK homes is a rarity today, Peters said it was a question of when, not if, the technology became normal for householders.
...If the world’s future appetite for cooling is provided by the current fossil fuel-heavy energy mix, carbon emissions will rise 2.5 gigatonnes by 2050. Global emissions from energy were 35 gigatonnes last year.
To meet the growth in cooling without pushing up emissions would take almost all the new solar power expected to be installed by mid-century, Peters calculated.
He said: “Yes, we need to look at more efficient cooling technologies and greening electricity, but when you see the size of the demand we have to be much more radical in our thinking and start to invest in [tackling] this.”