Air conditioners ‘to become one of top power demand drivers by 2050’

The International Energy Agency (IEA) stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency

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The growing use of air conditioning (AC) units in homes and offices will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand by 2050.

That’s according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency and avoid related demand tripling to the equivalent of the current electricity capacity of the US, the EU and Japan put together.

The IEA expects the amount of AC units installed around the world to grow from 1.6 billion today to 5.6 billion in 2050.

It suggests stringent energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling could see the average energy consumption of total AC stock more than halve between now and 2050, reducing the need for new generation infrastructure.

The organisation says making cooling more efficient would also yield other benefits such as making it more affordable, secure and sustainable, while saving as much as $2.9 trillion (£2.1tn) in investment, fuel and operating costs.

Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, said: “Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate.

“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs.”

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