Thursday, 7 September 2017

Electricity demand in southern Europe to soar with air con

After the hurricane in Texas, there has been a lot of news about how the weather will affect energy use. Of course the big story is how energy use is already affecting weather! I'm sure I heard people twenty years ago warning about global warming making storms bigger and more frequent. 

Another angle is news from the Guardian here about the increase in electricity demand in southern Europe for air conditioning due to increased temperatures. The UK will probably also need more cooling, but will need less heating, so in terms of energy may break even. Obviously the increase in temperature depends partly on whether we do anything about carbon emissions, and of course there will be some feedback if Europe does not de-carbonise the electricity supply.

The article does mention increasing insulation as a way to maintain comfortable temperatures, which is good.

The picture accompanying this shows an array of air conditioners from four different manufacturers, all Japanese.

Here is a report on global demand from the Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association which shows that demand for air conditioners is already increasing around the world. They estimate 2016 global demand to be around 100 million units, growing 2.9% from the previous year.

In terms of market size, China is the biggest with 40% share, followed by Rest of Asia, North America, Japan, Latin American and then Europe with 6 million unit sales. In terms of market growth there is a very different picture, with Europe growing at over 12%, followed closely by Latin America, then Rest of Asia growing at over 8%. The more mature air conditioner markets of North America and Japan show the lowest growth rates of 1.8% and 2.8% respectively.

Since they can work as heaters as well as coolers, and since they run off electricity which is the medium of choice for renewable energy, split-unit heat-pump-based air conditioners may increasingly become the unit of choice for domestic heating and cooling needs. I may even get one myself.