Hot air behind your cold fridge? Why the future of cooling must be sustainable

SDG7-energy

(World Bank Group, 2016)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Jürgen Fischer, President, Danfoss Cooling

Picture this: you live in a hot and humid climate, and you get access to energy. What’s the first thing you buy to stay cool? An air conditioner (AC). As incomes and standards of living increase around the world, so does the use of ACs. As a result, the global energy demand for ACs is expected to triple by 2050. However, people are buying units with average efficiencies of less than half of what is available on the market. To respond to the growing demand for cooling, we must, first and foremost, think energy efficiency.

Cooling appliances such as ACs consume energy and emit heat while running. Anyone who has ever put their hand behind their fridge knows what I’m talking about. In turn, these heat gains add to air-conditioning demand. This dynamic, combined with the rising demand for cooling, drives up both power needs and CO2 emissions. Hence the need to think energy efficiency.

Sustainable cooling solutions

I am fiercely passionate about supporting the development of technologies that cool people, products and the planet. Inevitably, the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s recent report ‘The Future of Cooling‘ caught my attention. It shows that cooling appliances account for about a fifth of the total electricity in buildings around the world, or 10% of all global electricity consumption. In a nutshell, cooling is the strongest driver of growth in electricity demand from buildings. Just three countries – India, China, Indonesia – contribute to half of it.

Therefore it’s crucial to lead the way towards a sustainable cooling sector. We need to start today. We must follow a path that focuses on the best available technology and helps reduce the impact of cooling on energy demand and CO2 emissions. Smart energy solutions such as district energy, thermal storage or heat pump technology can combine heating and cooling cycles, and enable other innovations such as heat recovery. Combining cooling and heating synergies is highly energy and resource-efficient, and an affordable solution to help stabilize the wider energy system. Consider the next two examples of solutions that do exactly this.

Looking into the future with heating

Remember the ‘hand behind the fridge’ illustration? The cooling process produces heat. Traditionally, the heat is not used, just released into the air. Heat recovery is an innovative process by which we recover wasted heat and integrate it into the local energy system. This is a new and attractive way to make cooling more efficient.

Think about your local supermarket. Its refrigeration system generates a lot of excess heat while it cools down your ice-cream and frozen pizza. With a heat recovery solution, supermarkets can instead recycle that heat and use it to warm the store or provide hot tap water. For example, heat recovery from milk cooling systems can be used to pre-heat washing water, giving energy savings of 60%. Supermarkets can also sell heat to local heating plants and distribute it through district energy systems. In the end, heat recovery solutions can save energy for other uses and reduce pressure in the cooling system.

Buildings are part of the solution

What if buildings could deliver more energy than they use? We already know the growing demand for space cooling calls for technologies that can maximize energy efficiency. But did you also know that buildings offer the flexibility necessary for more innovative solutions, and can play a significant role in smart and integrated energy systems?

We can change cooling demand by starting with buildings. District energy is a future-proof system, connecting electricity, heating and cooling, demand and supply, all while utilizing big data to forecast and level out system peaks to increase efficiency dramatically. The same supermarket that uses a heat recovery solution, if integrated into the larger energy system, can unlock excess capacities that amount to 70% of a compressor’s cooling capacity.

These kinds of innovative, smart solutions require collaboration and a collective mindset. All the technologies exist today, but they are mostly utilized in “silo” fashion. Unlocking the enormous synergies derived from true connectivity and collaboration can turn a problem into a solution. It can lead the way to smarter, more efficient energy systems all over the world.

Achieving efficient and sustainable cooling for all

Increasing the availability of energy-efficient cooling technology is the solution to avoid facing a “cold crunch”, as the IEA calls it. System thinking must be front and centre of energy efficiency solutions. Integrating heating and cooling sectors can deliver huge efficiency gains. Cooling is not luxury – it is an essential part of our modern society. If we manage to do it sustainably, we can also keep the planet cool.

The technology is already available, and we need to call on governments to do more around efficiency. Policy interventions can address the problems that result from the growing demand for space cooling, and can have a significant and rapid global impact. The right policy action is critical to ensure a sustainable path to the future of cooling, and allow people to stay comfortable without straining energy systems or the planet.

Building codes that reduce cooling needs, and implementation and enforcement of efficiency standards for ACs are key to meeting the world´s space-cooling demand in a sustainable fashion. The average energy efficiency of the global stock of ACs could more than double between now and 2050. But without strong regulatory measures, efficiency could still be 40% below that of the most efficient ACs on the market today. The technology is available. From where I sit now, only policy action can put us on a more sustainable track.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Why the world needs systems leadership, not selfish leadership

Mobile World Congress 2015 first to debate EU’s new stance on Net Neutrality and Roaming Charges

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

MEPs react to breaches of human rights in Moldova, Burundi and Somalia

Imaginary Journeys Into Eternal China

UN relief chief urges Security Council to back aid delivery, more funding for millions of Syrians hit by harsh weather

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

The Americans are preparing for the next financial crisis

From farms to supermarkets: MEPs approve new EU rules against unfair trading

Essential services on verge of shutdown in Gaza as emergency fuel set to run out

UN chief urges India and Pakistan to dial down tensions in wake of Kashmir attack

Why a global recession isn’t inevitable

IMF cuts global growth outlook, but predicts pick up later in 2019

Mergers: Commission clears Telia’s acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting, subject to conditions

Tackling obesity would boost economic and social well-being

A woman would have to be born in the year 2255 to get equal pay at work

These are the UK’s biggest trading partners

Connectivity and collaboration in the ICT industry: the key to socio-economic development

Why precision medicine won’t transform healthcare – but governance could

Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc

OECD presents analysis showing significant impact of proposed international tax reforms

‘Millions facing starvation’ – Global political and business leaders on the economic impact of COVID-19

Technology can help us save the planet. But more than anything, we must learn to value nature

Is it just visa-free travel that Erdogan demands from the EU to not break the migration deal?

Scores of Rohingya refugee shelters in Bangladesh destroyed by flooding

Africa must become more resilient to climate risk. Here’s how

Why law enforcement and businesses need to join forces to fight global cybercrime

Pharmaceuticals: Commission refines intellectual property rules

European Semester Autumn Package: Bolstering inclusive and sustainable growth

EU Parliament says ‘no’ to austerity budget

Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Bicycles for the environment, new leader for the UN General Assembly, UN values, Ebola, Syria and Libya

Parliament and Council agree drastic cuts to plastic pollution of environment

Youth and children in Europe set the new perspectives for the decades to come

Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic Congo is ‘largely contained’: WHO

Questions and Answers on issues about the digital copyright directive

To meet development goals, UN agriculture agency ‘cannot only focus on tackling hunger anymore’

Tsipras doesn’t seem to have learned his “almost Grexit” lesson and Greece faces again financial and political dead end

One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds: new UN health agency report

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

What can the private sector do to alleviate the refugee crisis?

EU Elections: new rules to prevent breaches of data used to influence elections

Importance of teaching ethics in Brazilian Medical Schools

World Food Day: here’s what the UN is doing to fix ‘intolerable’ wrong of hunger

A common fight against Antimicrobial Resistance: how can we react and what should we do

UN welcomes ‘record’ Brussels conference pledge of nearly $7 billion to support Syrians

Anti-vaccination scaremongering: What should we know about anti-vaccine argument?

The EU invites the US and Russia to partition Ukraine

Can Kiev make face to mounting economic problems and social unrest?

Why Trump’s tariffs are good news for US garlic farmers

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

SoftLayer, an IBM company, @ TheNextWeb 2014: Masters of Failure and Change

Armed insurgency in north-east Nigeria ‘has created a humanitarian tragedy’

‘Exercise restraint’ Guterres urges Sri Lankans, as political crisis deepens

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

WHO reports ‘very strong progress’ in battling DR Congo Ebola outbreak

Uncovered liabilities of €5 billion may render EU insolvent

EU trade agreements: delivering new opportunities in time of global economic uncertainties

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

Young students envision turning Europe into an Entrepreneurial Society

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s