A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the global stock of air conditioners in buildings will rise from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion by 2050 – amounting to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years.
While that might sound like good news for the HVAC&R industry, the main thrust of the report is that better energy efficiency standards are urgently required to keep a check on the associated energy use and avoid what the IEA calls a “cold crunch”.
According to the IEA, using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10 per cent of all global electricity consumption today. By 2050, it is expected to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.
“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” said IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world. While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized. Standards for the bulk of these new ACs are much lower than where they should be.”
The Australian federal government is currently undertaking an independent review of the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Act 2012.