The Future of Cooling

Opportunities for energy-efficient air conditioning

"Growing demand for air conditioners 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, cut emissions and reduce costs at the same time."
Fatih Birol, Executive Director, IEA


Cooling down is catching on. As incomes rise and populations grow, especially in the world’s hotter regions, the use of air conditioners is becoming increasingly common. In fact, the use of air conditioners and electric fans already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption.

Over the next three decades, the use of ACs is set to soar, becoming one of the top drivers of global electricity demand. A new analysis by the International Energy Agency shows how new standards can help the world avoid facing such a “cold crunch” by helping improve efficiency while also staying cool.

Download report Read press release Global Exchange on Efficiency: Cooling

Key findings from the Future of Cooling


	Share of households with AC
Japan	91
United States	90
Korea	86
Saudi Arabia	63
China	60
Mexico	16
Brazil	16
Indonesia	9
South Africa	6
India	5
{
  "chart": {
    "type": "column",
"height":"55%"
  },
"plotOptions": {
"column": { "borderWidth":0 }
},
  "title": {
    "text": "Percentage of households that have AC today"
  },
"xAxis": {
"type":"category"
},
  "tooltip": {
    "shared":true,
"valueSuffix":"%"
  },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
"series":[{"showInLegend":false}],
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      }
    }
  }]
}
}

The world faces a ‘cold crunch’

By 2050, around 2/3 of the world’s households could have an air conditioner. China, India and Indonesia will together account for half of the total number.

	United States	China	Japan and Korea	European Union	India	Indonesia	Mexico	Brazil	Middle East	Rest of world
1990	227.02	78.55	106.53	43.77	2.47	1.86	4.60	7.24	12.10	91.55
1991	224.22	80.99	114.06	44.33	2.76	1.97	5.19	7.73	13.38	94.24
1992	230.77	86.98	118.35	45.92	3.14	2.08	5.47	7.83	14.49	96.36
1993	237.33	90.20	122.80	46.84	3.59	2.27	5.26	8.46	15.11	99.90
1994	244.60	97.76	126.95	47.93	4.09	2.44	5.32	9.40	15.24	102.03
1995	251.28	102.23	131.95	49.28	4.72	2.68	5.11	10.53	15.64	104.28
1996	258.77	111.16	135.70	51.08	5.41	2.95	5.11	11.04	16.14	107.13
1997	266.75	117.25	140.08	53.57	6.20	3.13	5.44	11.79	16.91	111.13
1998	276.48	124.17	142.34	56.36	7.07	2.98	6.22	12.13	19.01	113.53
1999	283.10	130.97	146.22	59.15	8.13	3.05	6.70	12.28	18.02	115.57
2000	291.31	138.14	150.02	64.76	8.48	2.82	8.12	12.86	18.00	121.28
2001	299.09	149.38	151.09	68.30	8.85	2.93	8.24	12.84	19.00	124.77
2002	307.35	159.64	155.75	71.21	9.26	3.21	8.31	13.06	19.19	128.46
2003	314.21	172.90	159.41	74.20	9.66	3.60	8.44	13.31	20.72	135.08
2004	322.48	183.38	164.15	77.02	10.14	3.79	8.79	14.07	23.48	144.15
2005	328.44	200.24	169.43	79.21	10.73	4.03	9.40	14.86	24.01	152.37
2006	336.38	223.32	174.55	81.34	11.39	4.30	9.99	16.04	26.38	161.48
2007	340.37	252.47	179.06	83.43	12.17	4.82	10.52	18.16	29.97	174.33
2008	345.62	274.79	182.63	86.19	13.08	5.20	11.11	19.97	33.54	183.06
2009	345.92	308.58	183.94	88.11	14.25	5.60	11.12	21.94	40.03	189.35
2010	349.03	342.92	189.87	88.22	15.48	6.06	11.31	25.11	42.09	198.96
2011	353.28	378.51	194.68	88.46	16.67	6.67	11.78	27.25	41.05	207.71
2012	357.83	419.33	198.26	88.11	18.05	7.67	12.56	29.34	42.41	218.41
2013	355.65	457.03	202.11	88.88	19.50	8.74	13.63	31.12	43.60	228.40
2014	359.64	492.13	203.19	90.48	21.52	9.80	14.30	31.34	44.62	235.30
2015	367.76	531.23	204.91	93.30	23.74	10.91	15.12	29.79	45.54	241.15
2016	373.59	569.38	206.96	96.52	26.56	12.14	15.84	27.40	47.03	246.30
2017	379.70	607.92	208.47	100.20	30.12	13.67	16.70	26.09	49.07	254.42
2018	386.49	643.42	211.68	104.92	35.64	15.81	18.07	27.34	51.54	266.40
2019	393.27	688.08	214.98	110.25	41.60	18.24	19.50	28.12	54.29	279.29
2020	399.47	730.19	218.07	115.31	47.73	20.63	20.93	29.00	57.01	291.73
2021	405.40	773.69	220.92	120.47	56.56	23.80	22.64	30.39	60.20	305.87
2022	411.29	818.05	223.89	125.65	66.69	27.31	24.62	32.04	63.74	320.91
2023	416.89	862.12	226.82	130.90	78.74	31.21	26.86	34.02	67.63	337.00
2024	422.30	905.25	229.68	136.15	93.07	35.56	29.34	36.34	71.82	354.23
2025	427.56	947.06	232.45	141.42	109.85	40.39	32.03	39.02	76.29	372.66
2026	432.70	987.32	235.10	146.67	129.38	45.66	34.92	41.98	81.01	392.10
2027	437.72	1025.69	237.58	151.89	151.95	51.42	37.97	45.21	85.99	412.76
2028	442.69	1062.05	239.90	157.10	177.81	57.70	41.19	48.71	91.20	434.67
2029	447.66	1096.30	242.07	162.30	207.21	64.46	44.55	52.48	96.65	457.87
2030	452.70	1128.36	244.09	167.48	240.32	71.69	48.05	56.52	102.32	482.37
2031	457.79	1158.16	245.99	172.68	277.09	79.33	51.68	60.83	108.08	508.14
2032	462.89	1185.80	247.76	177.86	317.57	87.39	55.42	65.40	113.99	535.28
2033	467.95	1211.31	249.39	183.06	361.58	95.80	59.25	70.22	120.01	563.74
2034	472.91	1234.73	250.89	188.29	408.80	104.52	63.17	75.27	126.08	593.48
2035	477.76	1256.13	252.26	193.55	458.76	113.46	67.16	80.53	132.18	624.45
2036	482.52	1275.62	253.55	198.87	510.72	122.53	71.22	85.98	138.22	656.53
2037	487.20	1293.34	254.73	204.22	564.16	131.69	75.32	91.59	144.21	689.78
2038	491.77	1309.49	255.83	209.60	618.38	140.89	79.44	97.31	150.12	724.12
2039	496.23	1324.29	256.87	215.00	672.66	150.06	83.57	103.30	155.94	759.49
2040	500.61	1337.86	257.88	220.43	726.31	159.14	87.70	109.33	161.62	795.79
2041	504.91	1350.38	258.88	225.93	778.58	168.04	91.83	115.40	167.12	832.90
2042	509.16	1361.88	259.84	231.45	829.14	176.75	95.93	121.44	172.49	870.84
2043	513.38	1372.37	260.76	236.98	877.59	185.24	99.99	127.42	177.73	909.51
2044	517.58	1381.83	261.63	242.53	923.64	193.47	103.98	133.29	182.83	948.81
2045	521.73	1390.30	262.47	248.07	967.10	201.41	107.90	139.04	187.78	988.66
2046	525.86	1397.87	263.28	253.63	1007.65	209.00	111.77	144.67	192.54	1028.95
2047	529.97	1404.52	264.06	259.15	1045.54	216.28	115.55	150.12	197.15	1069.62
2048	534.06	1410.28	264.80	264.60	1080.78	223.23	119.23	155.36	201.63	1110.64
2049	538.13	1415.19	265.51	269.98	1113.47	229.86	122.80	160.38	205.97	1151.98
2050	542.18	1419.27	266.19	275.29	1143.70	236.19	126.25	165.20	210.18	1193.61
{
"chart": {
"type": "area",
"height":"40%"
},
"title": {
	"text": "Global air conditioner stock",
	"style":
		{ "color": "#dddddd", "fontSize": "18px" }
},
"plotOptions": {
	"series": {
    	"marker": {
        	"enabled": false
      	},
	"stacking": "normal"
   	}
},
"legend":{
	"layout":"vertical",
	"align":"right",
	"verticalAlign":"middle",
    "itemMarginTop": 5,
    "itemMarginBottom": 5,
    "reversed":true,
	"itemStyle":
		{ "color": "#dddddd" }
},
"tooltip": {
	"valueSuffix": " million units",
	"shared":true,
	"valueDecimals":0
},
"colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
],
"xAxis": {
	"plotLines": [{
		"value": 2016,
		"width":1,
        "color": "rgba(226,226,226,0.15)",
        "dashStyle":"shortDash",
        "label": {
        	"text": "Historical",
        	"rotation":0,
        	"align":"right",
        	"x":-10,
        	"y":20,
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
        }
    },{
		"value": 2016,
		"width":0,
        "color": "rgba(226,226,226,0.15)",
        "dashStyle":"shortDash",
        "label": {
        	"text": "Projections",
        	"rotation":0,
        	"align":"left",
        	"x":8,
        	"y":20,
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
        }
    }],
	"labels": {
		"style": {
			"color": "#dddddd"
		}
	}
},
"yAxis": {
	"title": {
		"text": "Million units",
		"style":
		{ "color": "#dddddd" }
    },
	"reversedStacks":false,
	"labels": {
		"style":
		{ "color": "#dddddd" }
	},
	"gridLineColor":"rgba(225,225,225,0.15)"
},
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      },
      "legend":{
	"layout":"horizontal",
	"align":"center",
	"verticalAlign":"bottom",
        "itemMarginTop": 0,
        "itemMarginBottom": 0,
        "reversed":true,
	"itemStyle": { "color": "#dddddd","fontSize":"8px" }
      }
    }
  }]
}
}

{
  "chart": {
    "type": "pie",
    "height": "55%"
  },
  "title": {
    "text": "Share of final electricity demand growth to 2050"
  },
 "plotOptions": {
        "pie": {
            "allowPointSelect": true,
            "cursor": "pointer",
            "dataLabels": {
                "enabled": true,
"useHTML":true,
                "format": "{point.name}: {point.percentage:.1f} %"
            }
        }
    },
  "tooltip": { "enabled":false  },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
"series":[{
"data":[{"name":"Space cooling","y":4254,"selected":true,"sliced":true},{"name":"Residential appliances","y":2932},{"name":"Lighting","y":892},{"name":"Heating","y":1428},{"name":"Other services","y":2000}]
}],
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      }
    }
  }]
}
}

Introducing the Efficient Cooling Scenario

The Efficient Cooling Scenario describes an energy pathway based on strong policy action to limit energy needs for space cooling. First and foremost, it considers the implications of much tighter minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for air-conditioning equipment.

The scenario does not assume any need for further technological advances, even though they will undoubtedly occur and help push up the average efficiency of new models. The Efficient Cooling Scenario is compatible with the ambitious climate goals under the Paris Agreement.

	Baseline scenario	Efficient Cooling Scenario
2016	1996.660574	1996.660574
2020	2199.417037	2053.246885
2025	2691.226086	2199.844226
2030	3287.242464	2345.089438
2035	4004.673375	2574.426387
2040	4756.426482	2844.365019
2045	5536.020683	3149.436413
2050	6204.819676	3406.739123
{
"chart": {
"type": "spline",
"height": "45%"
},
"title": {
"text": "Space cooling energy demand growth and savings potential"
},
"tooltip": {
"shared": true,
"valueSuffix": " TWh",
"valueDecimals": 0
},
"colors": [ "#31869b", "#93cddd" ],
"yAxis": {
"title": {
"text": "TWh"
}
},
"plotOptions": {
"series": {
"marker": {
"enabled": false
}
}
}
}

	2016	2050 Baseline Scenario	2050 Efficient Cooling Scenario
United States	29.0219848	32.5562967	22.5861825
China	16.4957448	17.2104867	12.7621621
Korea	16.1978543	19.0480282	15.5571104
Middle East	16.0921498	31.4463222	13.260996
Indonesia	14.9752196	40.7116338	30.2417392
India	10.5496596	44.076378	19.3479597
Mexico	10.1647384	24.3287559	15.1370383
Brazil	7.5810538	30.7870366	20.472256
South Africa	1.8759042	5.4137387	2.5552905
{
  "chart": {
    "type": "column",
    "height": "55%"
  },
  "title": {
    "text": "Share of cooling in electricity system peak loads"
  },
  "plotOptions": {
    "series": {
      "marker": {
        "enabled": false
      }
    }
  },
  "tooltip": {
    "valueSuffix": "%",
"valueDecimals":1
  },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
  "yAxis": {
    "title": {
      "text": "Share in peak electricity load"
    }
  },
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      },
      "yAxis": {
        "title": { "text":null }
      },
      "xAxis": {
        "labels": { "style": { "fontSize":"9px" } }
      }
    }
  }]
}
}

Efficient ACs can cut investment, fuel and operating costs...

The Efficient Cooling Scenario reduces investment and running costs by USD 3 trillion between now and 2050. Average cooling energy costs would be almost halved.

	Cumulative generation investments
Baseline Scenario	3183
Efficient Cooling Scenario	1977
{
  "chart": {
    "type": "column",
    "height": "70%"
  },
  "title": {
    "text": "Cumulative investments in power generation for space cooling to 2050",
	"style":
		{ "color": "#dddddd", "fontSize": "18px" }
  },
  "plotOptions": {
    "column": {
"borderWidth":0
      }
  },
  "tooltip": {
    "valueSuffix": " billion USD"
  },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
"xAxis":{
"labels":{
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
}
},
  "yAxis": {
    "title": {
      "text": "Billion USD",
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
    },
"labels":{
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
},
	"gridLineColor":"rgba(225,225,225,0.15)"
  },
"series":[{
"showInLegend":false
}],
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      }
    }
  }]
}
}
	Average annual electricity costs for cooling 2050
Baseline Scenario	62
Efficient Cooling Scenario	35
{
  "chart": {
    "type": "column",
    "height": "70%"
  },
  "title": {
    "text": "Global average electricity costs per capita for space cooling in 2050",
	"style":
		{ "color": "#dddddd", "fontSize": "18px" }
  },
  "plotOptions": {
    "column": {
"borderWidth":0
      }
  },
  "tooltip": {
    "valueSuffix": " USD per person"
  },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
"xAxis":{
"labels":{
        	"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
}
},
  "yAxis": {
    "title": {
      "text": "USD per person",
		"style": { "color": "#dddddd" }
    },
	"gridLineColor":"rgba(225,225,225,0.15)",
"labels":{ 		"style": { "color": "#dddddd" } }
  },
"series":[{
"showInLegend":false,"colorIndex":2
}],
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      }
    }
  }]
}
}

...and also help reduce emissions

More efficient ACs cut CO2 emissions from space cooling in half and combined with cleaner power sources can radically reduce overall emissions. Local air pollution is also drastically cut.


{
  "chart": {
    "type": "column"
  },
  "title": {
    "text": "Contribution of more efficient space cooling to reducing CO2 emissions"
  },
"xAxis":{
"categories":["2016","2050 Reference Scenario","Efficient ACs","Decarbonising Power","2050 Efficient Cooling Scenario"]
},
  "plotOptions": {
"column": {
"stacking":"normal",
"borderWidth":0
} 
  },
  "tooltip": {
    "valueSuffix": " Mt CO2"
  },
"legend": { "reversed":true },
  "colors": [
    "#31869b",
    "#93cddd",
    "#00b050",
    "#60497a",
    "#b1a0c7"
  ],
  "yAxis": {
    "title": {
      "text": "Mt CO2"
    },
"reversedStacks":false
  },
"series":[{
"name":"invisible",
"color":"rgba(0,0,0,0)",
"showInLegend":false,
"enableMouseTracking": false,
"data":[0,0,1142,148,0]
},{
"name":"CO2 emissions",
"showInLegend":false,
"color":"#d1ccc0",
"data":[1119,2070,0,0,148]
},{
"name":"CO2 savings",
"showInLegend":false,
"color":"#d1ccc0",
"data":[0,0,0,995,0]
},{
"name":"India",
"data":[0,0,273,0,0]
},{
"name":"Indonesia",
"data":[0,0,111,0,0]
},{
"name":"China",
"data":[0,0,119,0,0]
},{
"name":"United States",
"data":[0,0,103,0,0]
},{
"name":"Middle East",
"data":[0,0,73,0,0]
},{
"name":"Mexico",
"data":[0,0,21,0,0]
},{
"name":"Rest of world",
"data":[0,0,229,0,0]
}],
"responsive": {
  "rules": [{
    "condition": {
      "maxWidth": 500
    },
    "chartOptions": {
      "chart": {
        "height": "100%"
      },
      "legend": { "enabled" : false }
    }
  }]
}
}

The Future of Cooling is the second IEA report that focuses on "blind spots" of the global energy system, following the The Future of Trucks, which was released in July 2017. The next one in this series – The Future of Petrochemicals – will examine ways to build a more sustainable petrochemical industry. It will be released in September.


Download the Report (92 pages)   Read the press release   Global Exchange on Efficiency: Cooling