June 23, 2014
The price of power is on the rise in all parts of the world, while at the same time, climate change experts are saying the temperatures and environmental factors are likely to keep getting more severe. Is climate-friendly air-conditioning one of the solutions to minimize costs and environmental impacts? The first thing to consider is that the main culprit for the increasing power demand and costs is air-conditioning, especially during the hottest times of the day. It is during these hottest times of the day that the world also faces the biggest climate change risk.
Global air-conditioning demand rising
The Christian Science Monitor reported that a recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found the need for air conditioning will be about 30 times higher by 2100. Droughts and hotter temperatures due to climate change are predicted to increase demand for air-conditioning. According to the study warming climates and rising incomes will lead to a surge in cooling-related energy use.
Ironically, air-conditioning poses its biggest threat to our climate during the hottest times of the day when it's needed most. When the temperatures are at their peak, the Science Monitor reported, thermal power plants, which provide 80% of global electricity, operate less efficiently. Less efficiency at the power plants normally results in increased greenhouse gas emissions produced by the power plants.
"Earlier IPCC assessments did not write much about energy supply, but an increasing number of studies now explore its vulnerability, impacts and the adaptation options," the source quoted IPCC's report. The report explained 75% of the demand globally for air-conditioning was due to rising incomes in emerging markets but that 25% was due to climate change. It's likely that air-conditioning options will have to become more climate friendly to keep up with new global climate laws, making more room for increased air conditioning demand.
An ice storage system is a more climate friendly air-conditioning technology which allows businesses to generate cooling during off-peak hours and store these resources in tanks for future use. This allows the stored ice to be used during the hottest times of day when electricity generation has its more adverse affect, cutting cooling costs and improving thermal power plant efficiency.
Discovering more affordable and efficient cooling options could be a saving grace for the environment and public entities such as the Chicago Public School District. The Chicagoist reported that CPS is looking at a bill for roughly $100 million to add air conditioning in about 45 percent of its buildings. When making acquisitions at this scale, it's wise to think about the return on investment that a more climate friendly alternative can deliver.