“India’s Surging Air Conditioner Ownership and Rising Energy Demand: A Heat-Driven Challenge”

Rapid Rise in Air Conditioner Ownership in India Driven by Escalating Heat

In response to escalating heat in India, air conditioner ownership has surged, with the number of units per 100 households tripling since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA revealed that the ownership rate currently stands at 24 units per 100 households, and this number is predicted to skyrocket ninefold by 2050. The rise in air conditioner usage has also had a significant impact on electricity consumption, with a 21% increase observed between 2019 and 2022. As a result, nearly 10% of India’s electricity demand is now attributed to the cooling requirements of these devices.

The IEA’s report, titled “World Energy Outlook,” cited geographic and meteorological conditions as driving factors behind the surge in air conditioner ownership, as well as growing incomes in the region. It noted that over the past five decades, India has experienced more than 700 heatwave events, claiming over 17,000 lives.

With temperatures surpassing 25°C, there is a sharp increase in electricity consumption. By 2050, the IEA predicts that India’s total electricity demand from residential air conditioners will exceed the combined consumption of the entire African continent in the current policy scenario.

However, India is actively working toward becoming carbon neutral by 2070. As part of this commitment, the country is focusing on energy-efficient air conditioners and thermal insulation in buildings, which could lead to a nearly 15% reduction in electricity demand for air conditioners by 2050. This reduction is greater than the total electricity generation of some countries.

The IEA emphasized that implementing building codes, energy-efficient appliances, and demand response measures would enable India to meet its cooling needs with less energy. This, in turn, would reduce the need for investments in batteries or expensive standby generation capacity, making it more cost-effective to integrate renewable energy sources.

Despite being a significant net crude oil importer, India has achieved self-sufficiency in petroleum refining capacity, but certain petroleum products are still imported. India has also made substantial progress in expanding clean energy access and has become the world’s largest adopter of light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

The IEA highlighted India’s significant potential for growth, with the country projected to have the largest energy demand increase of any country or region globally over the next three decades. Factors contributing to this growth include a growing urban population, a tripling of iron and steel output, a doubling of cement production, and a ninefold increase in residential air conditioner ownership by 2050.

The “World Energy Outlook” report outlines a future energy system in 2030 that includes an increased role for clean technologies, such as a higher number of electric cars on the road, a surge in solar photovoltaic electricity generation, and a significant increase in renewable energy’s share of the global electricity mix.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol emphasized the unstoppable global transition to clean energy, stating that it’s not a matter of “if” but “how soon.” The report concluded that even stronger measures would be required to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, highlighting the urgency of action to combat climate change.

Sources By Agencies

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