Wednesday, April 29, 2015

World Is Poised for Major Surge in Air Conditioner Use

China Beijing Apartment Building Facade with Air Conditioners (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Air conditioners can feel like nothing short of a godsend at the height of summer, but as climate change drives temperatures higher and income growth increases AC adoption, air conditioning could become as much of a problem as it is a solution.  In a new study on AC adoption trends, researchers found that air conditioning adoption is likely to boom over the rest of this century, eventually driving residential electricity usage up 83 percent.  The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Air conditioner adoption is in many ways a good thing — it's no secret that a cooler home will make living there more pleasant — but it also leads to some big issues.  More air conditioners mean more energy needed to run them, and more electricity being made means more greenhouse gases going up into the air.  "I think this is a huge challenge," Lucas Davis, an Associate Professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and lead author of the paper, tells The Verge.  "This is just a huge challenge for electricity markets, for electricity systems, for electricity infrastructure.  This means an enormous increase in the need for electricity generation and transmission.  This is gonna cost a lot of money."  And that's money that will need to come from developing countries, which will drive AC growth.

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