IEA Report on air conditioning

The International Energy Agency just released their latest report The Future of Cooling – Opportunities for energy efficient air-conditioning.

It’s a stark reminder of the burden air-conditioning and the cooling of people is placing on the global energy resources and capability. The report is full of new information and latest data, with some interesting perspectives on just how serious the situation may become if we don’t collaborate at all levels of industry and government. For instance, just considering the power consumed by AC units in the USA and China, the amount is 2000 terawatt hours (TWh) per year which is equal to 2.5 times the total amount of electricity consumed by Africa. And proportionally this kind imbalance won’t disappear, the report confirms that only 8% of the world’s population live in the hottest regions of our planet, so socially it can be easily concluded the demand for people and space cooling has only just begun.

On the positive side, the report recognises that more energy efficient air conditioners could have a major impact and help curb demand, so the challenge for engineers and industry is very clear. Policy and government intervention is also required, letting the market decide on its own is a risky approach, as it is on the Food Waste and Loss crisis, governments have to act, even if it’s in co-operation with industry for voluntary agreements.

From an Australian perspective, the great work completed by industry so far under MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards) still has some way to go when it comes to air conditioners, and perhaps this IEA report could serve as some further motivation for all of us to do better and bring some things forward.

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