February 20, 2020
As highlighted in the latest IEA country report, space cooling is the fastest-growing use of energy in buildings globally and in Southeast Asia. As incomes rise and access to electricity improves, and prosperity becomes more widespread, air conditioning will become increasingly affordable for more people across Southeast Asia.
The overall number of air-conditioner units could rise from 40 million to 300 million units in 2040 with half that number in Indonesia alone.
This rise in energy demand from cooling alone is projected to require around 200 GW of additional generation capacity in 2040. This is approximately a 30% share in the region’s peak electricity demand. Stronger policies around efficiency, and building development can lead to as much as 110 TWh savings by 2040.
According to the IEA report,
Energy savings in the Sustainable Development Scenario could amount to reducing CO₂ emissions by almost 30 million tonnes – equivalent to the emissions of more than 6 million cars – as well as avoidance of other emissions that impact public health...This is especially relevant for Southeast Asian countries where air pollution causes long-term economic costs and hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.
Currently, oil is the largest element in the regional energy mix with coal being the fastest growing. This has underpinned the region’s development and industrial growth, but has also made air pollution a major risk to public health.
Without new technologies that are cheaper and more accessible, people and economies will continue to choose carbon solutions.
Efficient space cooling doesn’t depend on ACs alone. The IEA report recommends more efficient building design to preserve the gains of efficient AC units. Along with building envelope improvements, with updated codes, standards, and mandatory retrofits that would help ensure that buildings become efficient as well. The creation of a national cooling plan would also help to streamline efforts toward space cooling and cooling in other sectors, ensuring a strong framework for implementation.