Hotspots in developing countries will fuel demand for global energy

January 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Developing countries use proportionally less energy than industrialized nations, but this could soon change.

As personal income increases in developing countries, many of which are in warm-to-hot climates, the increased use of air conditioning could lead to an unprecedented increase in energy demand, says a University of Michigan researcher.

"Using energy to cool houses and apartments is not yet common in developing countries," said Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute. "For example, currently only 2 percent of housing units in India have central or room air conditioning, as compared to almost 90 percent in the United States."

In a new study published in the journal Energy Policy, Sivak examined the potential energy demand for residential heating and cooling in the world's 50 largest metropolitan areas.

His analysis used data on "heating and cooling degree days"—units that relate to the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings. One heating (cooling) degree day occurs for each degree the average daily outdoor temperature is below (above) 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sivak's analysis indicates that among the world's 50 largest cities, the top 13 in terms of cooling degree days are located in developing countries, such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. All but two of the top 30 are in these and other developing nations.

The potential increased demand in energy is illustrated by the example of Mumbai, a metropolitan area in India with 18 million inhabitants. Specifically, potential cooling demand in Mumbai is about 24 percent of the demand of the entire United States.

"Whether the potential cooling demand in developing countries will translate into energy consumption for cooling on the scale of the United States or greater is not clear," Sivak said. "Differences in energy infrastructure, size and occupancy density of buildings, sustainability concerns, desirable temperature and diurnal use of air conditioning will influence the energy use for cooling in developing countries. Nevertheless, the potential for a huge increase in energy use remains."

Provided by University of Michigan

Explore further: Geoscientists work to bring hidden underwater world back to life

Related Stories

Wireless charging and discharging for electric vehicles

September 1, 2015

In the future, a wireless charging system will allow electric cars not only to charge their batteries, but also to feed energy back into the power grid, helping to stabilize it. The cost-effective charging system achieves ...

Solar activity is declining—what to expect?

August 17, 2015

(Phys.org)—Is Earth slowly heading for a new ice age? Looking at the decreasing number of sunspots, it may seem that we are entering a nearly spotless solar cycle which could result in lower temperatures for decades. "The ...

Researchers show new Ice Age may begin by 2030

July 17, 2015

The arrival of intense cold similar to the weather that raged during the "Little Ice Age", which froze the world during the 17th century and in the beginning of the 18th century, is expected in the years 2030 to 2040. These ...

Recommended for you

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.