IEA Issues Air-Conditioning Warning
Air-conditioning (AC) will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published May 15.
Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the US, EU and Japan today, it said.
As incomes and living standards improve in developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is set to soar. Solar technology cannot meet such demands for peak-power, the IEA said, which instead would require substantial additional gas and/or coal-fired generation capacity. In India – where the share of AC in peak electricity load could reach 45% in 2050, up from 10% today without action – this would require large investments in new fossil-fuel plants to meet peak power demand at night. “Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and reduce costs at the same time," said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.
The full report, ‘The Future of Cooling’, can be downloaded free here but requires registration. It is the second IEA report that focuses on global energy “blind spots” and follows one entitled ‘The Future of Trucks’ released July 2017 and precedes one on petrochemicals coming out in September.