A Cool World: Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All

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The cooling sector is fast becoming one of our foremost environmental concerns. For the next 30 years, it is predicted that 19 cooling appliances will be installed every second; but even with this mass growth in the cooling sector, much of the world will still be without access to cooling, suffering the consequence: food wastage, spoiled medicines, unsafe living and working environments. However, the problem is not solely social, but also environmental.

If we are to deliver access to cooling for all, by 2050, we could require 14 billion cooling appliances globally – four times as many as are in use today. This would see the cooling sector consume five times the amount of energy it does today, and without radical intervention, ‘greening’ this volume of electricity could consume 80% of our projected renewables capacity in 2050. As we transition from hydrocarbons to renewables, we need a whole system approach to develop new, efficient paradigms for clean cooling. In order to achieve this, we need to stop asking ourselves ‘how much electricity do we need to generate?’ and start asking ‘what is the service we require, and how can we provide it in the least damaging way?’

‘A Cool World – Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All’, a new University of Birmingham report, sets out to provide, for the first time, an initial indication of the scale of the energy implications of Cooling for All, a scenario that would see ubiquitous penetration of cooling – and next steps to manage this within our climate change and natural resource limits.

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