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Why China’s Growing A/C Market Could Be Problematic

air conditioning installation

While the use of air conditioners is increasing throughout the world, it’s growing exponentially in China. Here, our air conditioning installation company shares this interesting Quartz article by Zoe Schlanger that explains just how large that growth is and what could happen if it continues:

“In China, air conditioning used to be rare. But there are now more air conditioners in China than there are in any other country in the world, and sales continue to skyrocket, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

Chins uses 68 times more electricity on cooling than it did in 1990, and that number continues to grow faster than anywhere else in the world.

Air conditioning units installed, by country/region:
China: 569 million
US: 374 million
Rest of the world: 243 million
Japan: 148 million
EU: 97 million
Korea: 59 million
Middle East: 47 million
India: 27 million
Brazil: 27 million
Mexico: 16 million
Indonesia: 12 million
South Africa: 3 million

At the moment, the US (with a population far smaller than China’s) still uses the most energy on air conditioning of any country in the world. As of 2016, 40% of all air-conditioning capacity is installed in the US, and its 328 million residents consume more energy for cooling than the 4.4 billion people living in all of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia (excluding China) combined, according to the IEA report.

Electricity used for cooling, by country/region:
US: 616 TWh (terawatt hours)
China: 450 TWh
Rest of the world: 332 TWh
EU: 152 TWh
Middle East: 129 TWh
Japan: 107 TWh
India: 91 TWh
Korea: 41 TWh
Mexico: 37 TWh
Brazil: 32 TWh
Indonesia: 24 TWh
South Africa: 8 TWh

But the US will soon be overtaken by China, as the energy the US spends on air conditioning is now growing only moderately while China’s balloons.

China outpaces every country by far in this air-conditioning explosion, but A/Cs are also taking off in other hot places where they were previously rare; India, for example, has seen a 15-fold increase in energy consumed for cooling since 1990.

Globally, air conditioning uses about 2,000 terawatt hours of energy per year, or roughly 10% of all the electricity humans consume per year. Producing all that electricity for A/Cs adds significantly to the climate-altering greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from cooling have tripled since 1990, according to the IEA, amounting to 1,130 million metric tons a year in 2016, nearly equivalent to the total emissions of Japan that year.

The IEA predicts that if the global-cooling boom continues unchecked, those figures could triple by 2050. At that point, energy used for air conditioning globally would be equal to China’s current total electricity demand. According to the IEA, if no strides are taken to improve A/C efficiency or to convert more electricity production to renewable sources, it could prove disastrous for global emissions.”