How can we cool our warming Planet.
Our planet is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions, with increases in both peak and average temperatures.
As a result, the demand for cooling will increase, driven by climate change as well as improving economic conditions.
Even as this happens, energy demand is shifting. More and more energy is needed for cooling systems as heatwaves create health and safety concerns, yet little is being done to meet this requirement.
This means that cooling requirements for data centers and new technologies may also call for innovative solutions.
Researchers predicts that the amount of energy used worldwide for cooling may outstrip that used for heating by 2060. A projection that will require governments to seek solutions now and factor cooling into energy models to meet this growing demand before it is too late.
In a recent report, entitled A Cool World: defining the energy conundrum of cooling for all, a team of researchers explore the increase in cooling demand. The report shows that an increase will undoubtedly strain energy networks, many of which are already stretched due to the inclusion of intermittent renewables.
Developing a wide array of cooling strategies will be vital for human comfort and prevention of heat-induced medical emergencies. Progress are already made as a growing number of materials and methods are being designed to improve technologies, meet the temperature needs of data centers and other facilities, and reduce harmful emissions.
While demand increases among the middle classes, there are still those around the world who suffer from a lack of cooling services. The cold chain is an essential part of the food industry, ensuring that fresh produce can be transported over long distances without perishing.
However, as the global population increases to nine billion by 2050 and demand for food rises with it, this cold chain will become even more important.
According to the United Nations, there will be an additional 38,000 deaths a year worldwide between 2030 and 2050 due to heat stress related to climate change. This will further drive the need for cooling.
While cooling is hardly a new problem, it has been given little consideration by global organisations and governments. In particular, countries that have typically experienced peak demand in winter have largely ignored the growing demand in favour of focusing on greening heat.
As the planet warms, keeping cool without increasing greenhouse gas emissions will be a challenge, but new materials and technologies are poised to meet this goal.
Despite of this, it will become increasingly concerning when trying to balance increased cooling with reducing emissions to slow global warming.