In the face of global warming, air conditioning is both a solution and a new problem.
By 2050, the proliferation of these devices will have tripled energy consumption.
With global warming in full swing, artificial cooling is quickly becoming a basic and necessary survival commodity. The solution, on the other hand, is becoming a part of the problem. Air conditioning is not in line with current energy needs, nor is it in line with environmental trends that should be implemented to combat climate change.
They also do not reach everyone. Only 16% of households in developing countries such as Mexico and Brazil have this resource today. The disparity is even greater in countries such as India, where only 5% of the population has access to air conditioning. Meanwhile, in Japan or the United States, 90% of the population has access to air conditioning in their homes when it is too hot or too cold.
Despite such a large disparity, estimates indicate that by 2050, due to global population growth, the acquisition of air conditioners in buildings will triple globally, reaching 6,000 million units. It will skyrocket over the next 20 years, as developing countries purchase these appliances on a massive scale.
More than half of all households will have an air conditioner as a result of this: 85 percent in Brazil, 61 percent in Indonesia, and 69 percent in India. However, if the entire population had access to this service by 2050 (which is also necessary for preserving food and vaccines), up to 14 billion units would be required.
Inequality will persist despite the expansion of air conditioners. According to a new study focused on Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – countries that currently have less access to this resource – by 2040, between 64 and 100 million households will be unable to meet their environmental cooling needs and will experience thermal discomfort.
With such a large number of appliances in the world, their consumption will triple, to the point where they will require as much electricity to operate as all of China and India today, as highlighted in the International Energy Agency study The Future of Cooling (IEA for its acronym in English).
The main issue is that these devices haven’t changed much since they were invented. The funds dedicated to the sector for modernization and efficiency have been very limited, and there have been few notable advances, causing the basic technology to function almost identically as when it was introduced nearly a century ago.
The high energy demand required to power all of these new appliances will result in increased CO2 emissions.
According to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme, improving the energy efficiency of the refrigeration industry and appliances could prevent the emission of between 210,000 and 460,000 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next four decades.
In other words, achieving a more effective cooling method over the next 40 years could save the world the equivalent of eight years of global emissions (at 2018 levels).
This is where renewable energies come into play, as using green energy to cool homes and offices would help to alleviate some of the environmental issues.
However, in the European Union, these cooling and heating energies are still the least used. In 2020, the European Union’s use of renewable energies for this purpose increased to 23.1 percent, up from 22 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2004. There is also a significant difference between EU countries, such that while this indicator is below 20% in Spain, it is more than 66 percent in Sweden.
Article Author Gerluxe