Report of sustainability challenge in cooling demand

university of birmingham

The University of Birmingham findings build on a recent ‘clean cold’ congress. The congress called for new planning approaches to tackle the rise in energy use from cooling technology.

They expect a quadrupling in worldwide demand for cooling appliances by 2050. This could lead to a 90 per cent increase in global energy consumption. There is a need for new political and industry thinking, the University of Birmingham have said.
The University earlier this year hosted a first global summit on ‘clean cold’.
The report says that a changing climate and population increase will need new approaches to ensure demand. These approaches will not be only technology based. The report considers how factors such as building design can mitigate high temperatures.
Professor Toby Peters, lead author of the ‘A Cool World’ report, said that “living labs” must also be formed. Developing new systems that make use of waste cold and heat, thermal energy storage and data. A new way to show viable new approaches to efficient cooling.
Living labs are described as projects that engage with specific communities around testing and demonstrating new approaches to governance, policy and funding of more efficient cooling that will look beyond the idea of technological solutions that may not be economically viable.
“Current projections do not consider a ‘Cooling for All’ scenario and it will be impossible to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals as well as the Paris climate change targets. If we are to meet either of these, relying on technology efficiency and greening electricity won’t be sufficient.”
“The challenge now is how to start with a system-led approach, better harnessing a portfolio of energy resources and adopting novel technologies. In order to achieve this, we need to start by asking ourselves a new question – no longer ‘how much electricity do we need to generate?’ but rather ‘what is the service we require, and how can we provide it in the least damaging way.”
Professor Peters
Curbing energy use required for cooling through high efficiency technologies, maintained to ensure a high-level of performance is one of the report’s key recommendations. Along with reducing the need for cooling altogether through better building design.
Realising these aims will need system-level thinking about the built environment and transport. The University of Birmingham is also pressing for a shift from ‘one size fits all’ approaches to planning. By looking at the specific energy needs of different rural and urban communities.
“Given the urgency and need to combine engineering and social sciences for an integrated approach that includes the behaviour of individuals, technical solutions, and the business models to make those solutions viable, the authors also urge the creation of an international centre for excellence.”
– University Statement
The report was co-authored by Michael Ayres and Etienne Teyssandier of the Flexible Power Systems group.
The findings have argued that the centre should work to support global collaboration on building a new roadmap for sustainable cooling. Focused on innovation, training and how best to adopt new technologies at scale.

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