AC demand in developing countries could put chill on energy supply

August 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: Hotspots in developing countries will fuel demand for global energy

Related Stories

Keeping cool using the summer heat

January 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 to cool our ...

U.S. energy demand on the decline due to population migration

September 8, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- As Congress and the White House explore ways to encourage Americans to conserve energy, a new study by the University of Michigan shows that the average individual energy demand for heating and cooling has ...

Recommended for you

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

Smallest 3-D camera offers brain surgery innovation

August 28, 2015

To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

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.