New IEA report on the future of cooling new International Energy Agency (IEA) report – The Future of Cooling – maintains that the growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices around the world will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades.


Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today, the report claims.


Global sales of air conditioners have been growing steadily and significantly. Since 1990, annual sales of air conditioners are said to have more than tripled to 135 million units. There are now about 1.6 billion in use, with over half in just two countries China and the USA.


Of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world, only 8% currently possess air conditioning, compared to 90% ownership in the USA and Japan. As incomes and living standards improve in many developing countries the global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, or 10 new air conditioners sold every second for the next 30 years.


This growth in air conditioning is expected to see energy demand triple by 2050. This would require new electricity capacity the equivalent to the current combined electricity capacity of the USA, the EU and Japan.


The report identifies key policy actions. The IEA finds that through stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050. This would greatly reduce the need to build new electricity infrastructure to meet rising demand.


Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as $2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.


The report also looks at the way air-conditioning systems are designed, installed and operated. These include using thermal zoning within buildings, enhanced controls and better sizing, installation and maintenance.



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