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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

China is among the 20 most innovative economies for the first time

Eurozone needs more than some decimals of growth

This forgotten chemical element could be the key to our green energy future

Joint U.S.-EU Statement following President Juncker’s visit to the White House

Thai citizenship means ‘dream of a brighter future’ for cave rescue boys, says UN Refugee Agency

Trump rejects Europe’s offer for zero car tariffs; he had personally tabled that idea in July

Eurozone: Bank resolution proposal gains wider interest

MWC 2016 LIVE: CEOs issue rallying call to drive ‘gigabit economy’

A renewed agenda for Research and Innovation: Europe’s chance to shape the future

EU and US close to an agreement on data sharing amid European citizens’ concerns

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

Driving structural change through global value chains integration

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

10 things Europe does better than the rest of the world

One Day in Beijing

Juncker Investment Plan for Europe welcomed by European Youth Forum

TTIP’s 11th round major takeaways and the usual “leaked” document

EU Summit/Migration: Parliament calls for joint solutions based on solidarity

German and French bankers looted the Irish and Spanish unemployed

6 ways to ensure AI and new tech works for – not against – humanity

Why Italy will not follow the Greek road; Eurozone to change or unravel

UN chemical weapons watchdog adds new powers to assign blame, following attacks

Backed by UN agency, countries set to take on deadly livestock-killing disease

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

What lessons to draw from the destruction of Syria

How close is the new financial Armageddon? IMF gives some hints

Obama turns the G20 summit into warmongering platform

The role of junior entrepreneurs as a bridge between academia and business world

UN agriculture agency digs in to help forests and farms build resilience to climate change

Education and Training: where do we stand in 2014?

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

Assault on key Yemeni port would endanger 300,000 children and ‘choke off’ aid for millions more: UNICEF chief

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Scotland in United Kingdom: It’s either the end or the beginning of the end

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Carbon Price Needed for Climate Change Success

G20 LIVE: G20 Leaders’ Communiqué Antalya Summit, 15-16 November 2015

Presentation of Juncker’s Investment Plan: Can 315 billion euros save the EU?

More answers from Facebook ahead of Parliament hearing today

Press conference by EC Vice-Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis (left) and Jyrki Katainen, on the Commission's proposals in the framework of the financial union (Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: EU, 2018 / Photo by Georges Boulougouris)

EU Finance ministers agree on new banking capital rules and move closer to Banking Union

A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

FROM THE FIELD: Sailing a traditional and sustainable path in Fiji’s tropical waters

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change-the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, yet overlooked in climate negotiations?” IFMSA wonders from COP21 in Paris

Cultural diversity can drive economies. Here are lessons from India and South Asia

A few, or rather two, trade and economic alliances may rule our brave new world

World Population Day: ‘A matter of human rights’ says UN

MWC 2016 LIVE: EC adds Brazil to partner tally

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

Eurozone recession subsides

Use space technology to build a better world for all, urges UN chief

The European Brain Drain: a truth or a myth?

EU seeks foreign support on 5G from Mobile World Congress 2015 as the “digital gold rush” begins

ILO: Progress on gender equality at work remains inadequate

Sub10 Systems @ MWC14: Bridging the Ethernet of the Future

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

Three scenarios for the future of geopolitics

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

Trade, entrepreneurship and the future of ASEAN’s economy

Czech Babis, Austrian Kurz and others threaten Europe with nationalist populism

More Stings?

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