Nav: Home

Since cooling demand is primarily driven by the sun, could it also be powered by the sun?

September 11, 2019

The study is a collaborative effort of an international team of solar energy experts from Aalto University of Finland, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and SMART (Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology). It analyses the intersection of two dominant trends in the energy sector during the 21st century: the impetus to decarbonise the energy sector to mitigate dangerous anthropogenic climate change and the increased economic prosperity in tropical countries which makes for a higher demand for cooling than heating.

More specifically, the study investigates whether the several billions of air-conditioning devices expected to come online within the 21st century could be powered by clean PV electricity, avoiding the need for additional carbon-based electricity generation, and accelerating the growth of the PV industry in the process. Dr Hannu Laine, the study's lead author, says, "As we scoured through the scientific literature, we found many detailed theoretical and experimental studies demonstrating the synergy of cooling and PV on small-scale such as single buildings or communities. However, we were unable to locate a single analysis assessing the scope and degree of the synergy of cooling and PV at a global level".

Another omittance was the discussion on how the picture will change as global warming proceeds, tropical countries gain wealth and as air-conditioners grow more efficient, "This deficiency makes it impossible for policymakers, investors and researchers to estimate the global impact of the phenomenon" Dr Laine adds.

The study team set out to estimate how much PV electricity generation would be required to power the global cooling demand today and how that number would change as tropical countries gain wealth, as global warming proceeds, and as technological innovation creates more efficient air-conditioners. Using established socio-economic, climate change and energy efficiency improvement projections, they predicted that the cooling demand would increase from approximately 400 TWh/year in 2018 to nearly 14 000 TWh/year by the end of the century, a dramatic 35-fold increase, despite air-conditioners growing significantly more efficient. In monetary terms, this means that the cooling industry increases from an approximately 50 billion dollars/year industry to a 1.5 trillion dollars/year industry.

It was concluded that the potential added AC PV capacity is on par with the global PV production capacity today as a whole, or enough to power the entire country of France with PV, and by the end of the century it will grow to be enough to meet that of India. Dr Laine concludes, "We expect these results to drive significant additional policy interest as well as research and business investments into the synergy of cooling and solar photovoltaics".
-end-
The study has been published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science for the September issue published September 11th.

Aalto University

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.