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: Researchers show new Ice Age may begin by 2030

Related Stories

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 ...

To save water, cool power plants with wax, say engineers

June 23, 2015

The towering plumes of steam emanating from power plant calderas that have come to symbolize the massive and, at times, menacing nature of the energy industry might soon have their natural dissipation into thin air preempted ...

Converting stormwater from a nuisance to a resource

June 17, 2015

A decision support tool is one of the latest developments for the management and use of stormwater and the improvement of energy efficiency in the urban water cycle. The software has been developed within the EU-MED Programme ...

Recommended for you

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

The couple who Facebooks together, stays together

July 27, 2015

Becoming "Facebook official" is a milestone in modern romance, and new research suggests that activities on the popular social networking site are connected to whether those relationships last.

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.