AC demand in developing countries could put chill on energy supply

Aug 13, 2013

The United States uses more energy for air conditioning than all other countries combined, but its status as the world's largest AC energy hog may soon be in jeopardy, said a University of Michigan researcher.

A new study by Michael Sivak, research professor and director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, shows that if the rest of the world adopts the same AC usage patterns found in the U.S.—and more and more countries certainly are—eight nations have the potential to surpass the American yardstick of high use.

"Several developing countries rank among both the most populous and hottest areas in the world," Sivak said. "As personal incomes rise in these countries, use of air conditioning will likely go up, leading to an unprecedented increase in . Rapid increases in the ownership of air conditioners are already occurring in many developing countries."

Sivak's study, appearing in American Scientist, examined the local climate and size of population for 170 countries around the world. He used a measure known as cooling-degree days, which provides an index of the energy demand required to cool indoor spaces. One cooling-degree day occurs for each degree the average daily is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sivak found that in India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil and the Philippines would exceed the demand in the U.S. if air conditioning became as prevalent in these countries as it is here. He also said that current cooling demands in these countries and many are nowhere near their possible peaks.

The top three—India, China and Indonesia—could surpass the U.S. by factors of 14, 5 and 3, respectively, if they adopt American standards of cooling, Sivak said. And future demand in all countries of the world has the potential to exceed demand in the U.S. by a factor of 50.

"As nations become more affluent and more people around the world adopt air conditioning, the energy demands in developing are certain to increase," Sivak said. "At the same time, climate change is expected to make cooling demands even greater than they are today. This trend will put additional strain not only on global energy resources but also on the environmental prospects of a warming planet."

Explore further: Environmentally compatible organic solar cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Keeping cool using the summer heat

Jan 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- While most Australians are taking care to shield themselves from the harsh summer heat, scientists from the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship are working on ways to harness the sun’s warmth ...

Recommended for you

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

2 hours ago

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

2 hours ago

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

3 hours ago

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

Wireless power transfer achieved at five-meter distance

3 hours ago

The way electronic devices receive their power has changed tremendously over the past few decades, from wired to non-wired. Users today enjoy all kinds of wireless electronic gadgets including cell phones, ...

Environmentally compatible organic solar cells

Apr 16, 2014

Environmentally compatible production methods for organic solar cells from novel materials are in the focus of "MatHero". The new project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) aims at making ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...