The report, entitled The Emerging Cold Economy, focuses on the increasing global demand for cooling and the opportunity for Britain to be a world leader in innovative low carbon cooling technologies. Up until now, the UK’s energy policy has been focused on transport, electricity and heat, while little time has been spent on addressing the importance of cold. However, cooling currently consumes up to 14 percent of UK electricity and the combined annual cost of electric and transport cooling in the country is now more than £5 billion.
To turn this from a cost to an opportunity, the Carbon Trust is pushing for a full assessment of the potential of the Cold Economy to be carried out.
Furthermore, the world’s expanding population and the growing middle class in emerging markets, is rapidly pushing up the demand for cooling. By 2030, global power demand for cooling could grow by the equivalent of three times the current electricity capacity of the UK.
According to the Carbon Trust, Britain has the potential to play a leading role in this market. A suite of low-carbon cold technologies are already in development with a growing hub of clean cold research and expertise developing in the Midlands. This involves a group of companies and research organisations that are working to develop liquid air technologies, which can simultaneously provide zero emission cooling and power. These include Dearman; Hubbard Products Ltd; MIRA; MTC; Loughborough University; and the University of Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Research, the first of its kind.
“Turning the Cold Economy from an idea into reality will depend on joined-up thinking and collaboration by industry, academia and government to develop, test and deploy novel solutions” said David Sanders, Director of Innovation at the Carbon Trust. “With Britain’s rich history of innovation and engineering, we have a real opportunity to lead the way in low carbon cold technologies and drive innovative solutions from the lab to the market.”
Professor Richard Williams OBE, FREng Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, added that delivering cold to where it is most needed requires research across technical, business and policy areas. This can include, for example, the development of new materials and processes for efficient and cost-effective cooling and the creation of business systems models that seek to recognise the ‘value’ of cold. This will result in the creation of new policies for the UK and internationally.
Government and industry could help the UK take advantage of these favourable conditions and secure a global leadership role for the country in this major potential growth market. Research suggests that supporting the development of cold technologies would create more than 10,000 jobs by 2025 and in excess of 25,000 jobs by 2050 across development, manufacturing and after-sales support.
Outside of the UK the demand for cold technologies is even greater, given that up to half of perishable food in developing countries rots before ever reaching the market, largely due to the absence of cold chains. It is estimated that food wastage occupies a land area the size of Mexico; consumes 250 km3 of water per year, three times the volume of Lake Geneva; and accounts for 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.
In Asia, where the demand for cooling is rising, the Indian government forecasts an investment need of $15 billion on its cold chain over the next five years, and in China, refrigerated storage capacity is on course to increase 20-fold by 2017.
The Carbon Trust is an independent company aiming to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. It advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world and measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services, while also helping to develop and deploy low carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.
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